Lonesome George, The World’s Last Remaining Pinta Island Tortoise, Has Died

The world’s only Pinta Island Tortoise died on Sunday, leaving the planet one species poorer. Lonesome George, the iconic tortoise of the Galapagos Islands, was believed to be over 100 years old.

When Lonesome George was discovered on Pinta Island in 1972, Galapagos National Park officials had already believed the specifies to be extinct. The tortoise was then taken to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to be cared for under the park service’s tortoise program.

On a happier note, it looks like Lonesome George didn’t have to be all that lonesome during his passing. Two females from the Espanola tortoise population, the species most genetically similar to Pinta tortoises, stayed by George until his last breath.

Staff members of the Galapagos National Park Service are still unsure as to what the cause of death was. To honor the beloved animal, however, the park is holding an international workshop in July on effective strategies for restoring tortoise populations over the next 10 years.

[photo via putneymark]