The world lost a legend this past weekend.
One of the world’s rarest animals died on Sunday. Lonesome George, a giant tortoise, was estimated to be around 100 years old when a park ranger found him lying motionless in his pen in the Galapagos National Park. Thought to be the last of his kind, he became an icon for the Galapagos. His subspecies (Chelonidis nigra abingdoni) is now functionally extinct.
Lonesome George was found in 1973 and spent the rest of his years in captivity. Efforts to encourage him to reproduce failed. Two females of a different subspecies of giant tortoise were placed in his pen, but once the eggs were laid, they were found to be infertile.
His fame brought thousands of visitors to the islands each year, including human celebrities like Angelina Jolie. This high-profile position lead him to become a symbol of conservation efforts in the Galapagos and globally. The loss of such an icon is a potent reminder of the perils endangered species face.
He will be missed.