|Photo of Lonesome George is from the Ecuador & Galapagos Facebook page|
George was unique, however, among those 20,000 because he was the only one of his type....the sole survivor of a special subspecies of giant tortoise. As such he became a symbol for conservation and biodiversity and of the Ecuadorian reverence for the abundant fauna and flora that exists here.
For those readers who aren't aware: Ecuador has more species of flora and fauna than any other single nation on earth. It is also the only country on earth that has written special rights into its constitution for nature and the environment. "Lonesome George" was more than just a tourist celebrity....he was a national symbol of the pride Ecuadorians feel about their country and the connection each Ecuadorian has to Nature.
"Lonesome George's name came about not only because he was the last of his kind but also because he was a bit of an individualist. For many years , his keepers on the Galapagos had attempted pairing George with mates of of other subspecies of giant tortoise but he showed virtually no interest. Only one mating was noted over years of effort but that, unfortunately, did not result in fertilized eggs. George, unlike most of the wildlife on the Galapagos, also persistently avoided human contact when given the chance, with the sole exception of his keeper of nearly 4 decades. He was, in fact, and in practice, a solitary individual.
George was found dead somewhat unexpectedly...giant tortoises, after all, are know to live up to 200 years. However, given the fact that he is the only one of his subspecies that modern zoologists have ever known, his estimated age and relation to lifespan may be speculative.
All we do know is that this treasured national symbol of the biodiversity is gone and will be sorely missed by all who treasure and cherish this land and what it has to offer.
So many people from all over the world have come to know the story of George that the national park officials have decided to create a special memorial album commemorating George's life. If you were fortunate enough to visit the Galapagos and see and photograph George, you are encouraged to submit a remembrance email and your photograph for consideration as an addition to the memorial album. Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more details and even read some of the submissions on the Ecuador & Galapagos Facebook page.
Decanza en paz (rest in peace) Solitario Jorge....you will will be missed and you will be remembered so long as there is an Ecuador!