Lonesome George, the face of the Galapagos Islands conservation efforts, passed away yesterday. He was well over 100 years old, and may have been around to meet Charles Darwin when he landed there in the 1800s. He was the last of his sub-species of Pinta Island tortoises and marks the extinction of his kind.
We had the privilege of meeting Lonesome George on a trip to the Galapagos in 2006. He was a friendly, albeit slow-moving fellow, who munched on greenery and seemed nonplussed by the amount of tourist attention being lavished on him. At the time, his caretakers had introduced four female tortoises into the pen with him, but he didn't seem at all interested in mating with them. He was a confirmed bachelor to his dying day.
We joined the Galapagos Conservancy on behalf of our son, largely because of meeting him and understanding the importance of preserving the unique, spectacular wildlife found in the Galapagos Islands. Even though Lonesome George didn't leave any offspring behind, it is important that we do our part to preserve these islands for our own kids and their kids.
Farewell, Lonesome George. You were truly one of a kind.