The world shed a tear when the news broke that “Lonesome George” — the last remaining giant tortoise of his kind — passed away in his enclosure in the Galapagos Islands on Sunday.
The 200-pound, 5-foot-long reptile was thought to be in the prime of his life — around 100 years old, which is not particularly old for a giant tortoise. Conservation officials in the Galapagos are conducting an autopsy to determine his cause of death, though they suspect he may have suffered a heart attack, reports AP.
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More recently, humans tried to do penance by relocating George from his native goat-ridden Pinta Island to Santa Cruz Island, where he spent the last 40 years of his life clambering around in a protected field. Yet George’s repeated refusals to procreate — even when lured by a Swiss zoology student slathered in female tortoise hormones — earned him his nickname, and denied humanity the satisfaction of making amends by ensuring the survival of his subspecies.
Despite his nickname, George, in some ways, was far from lonesome: He is part of a global family of animals who are among the last remaining representatives of their kind. Here are some of George’s most endangered relatives, as reported by National Geographic:
- Vaquita: A tiny dolphin that lives in the Gulf of Mexico and often drowns in fishing nets. 150 left
- Hirola: An antelope with lovely swirled horns that lives near the Kenya-Somalia border and is threatened by cattle farming and drought. 600 left
- Bonneted Bat: Florida’s largest bat was thought to be extinct until a small colony was found near Fort Myers in 2002. The 21-inch creature has lost most of the cliff crevices and tree cavities in which it lives. 100 left
- Grenada Dove: The pink-breasted Caribbean bird has been hunted to the brink of extinction by mongooses, cats and rats. 150 left
- White-headed Langur: These monkeys on Vietnam’s Cat Ba Island are used in traditional Chinese medicine and have now been fractured into a few small groups. 59 left
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