Lonesome George was the last surviving Pinta Island tortoise, native only to the Galapagos Islands. Until 2012, Pinta Island tortoises were extinct in the wild. On June 24, 2012, Lonesome George died, and the Pinta Island tortoise became entirely extinct.

Photograph by Christopher Werner, MyShot
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    On June 24, 2012, a 100-year-old, 91-kilogram (200-pound) tortoise nicknamed Lonesome George died in captivity. With the death of Lonesome George, the entire Pinta Island tortoise species went extinct.
     
    Pinta Island tortoises used to thrive on Pinta Island, one of the 18 Galapagos Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. In the 1950s, settlers introduced goats to the island. The goats outcompeted the tortoises for the same vegetation. In 1972, Lonesome George was relocated to a research station on nearby Santa Cruz Island to spend the rest of his life. 
     
    Although scientists worked to find Lonesome George a suitable mate, he died as lonesome as he lived. His life has become a symbol of the dangers of introduced species and the importance of conservation efforts in the Galapagos and around the world.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    archipelago Noun

    a group of closely scattered islands in a large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: archipelago
    captivity Noun

    confinement or imprisonment.

    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    conservation Noun

    management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

    Encyclopedic Entry: conservation
    extinct Adjective

    no longer existing.

    introduced species Noun

    a species that does not naturally occur in an area. Also called alien, exotic, or non-native species.

    island Noun

    body of land surrounded by water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: island
    Lonesome George Noun

    last surviving Pinta Island tortoise.

    mate Noun

    one of a breeding pair of animals.

    outcompete Verb

    to perform better than another at the same task.

    pet Noun

    animal kept as a helper or companion.

    relocate Verb

    to move a residence or business from one place to another.

    research station Noun

    structure or structures built for scientific study of the surrounding region, possibly including residential and lab facilities.

    settler Noun

    person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

    species Noun

    group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

    suitable Adjective

    appropriate.

    symbol Noun

    something used to represent something else.

    thrive Verb

    to develop and be successful.

    tortoise Noun

    land-based turtle, usually with a tall, rounded shell.

    vegetation Noun

    all the plant life of a specific place.

    zoo Noun

    place where animals are kept for exhibition.

    Encyclopedic Entry: zoo