Officials at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador recently announced the death of Lonesome George, the Galapagos tortoise whose failed efforts to produce offspring made him a symbol of disappearing species. He was found in his pen by his longtime keeper, Fausto Llerena. His death was attributed to unknown causes.

LonesomeGeorge(FlickrCommons-Davey)

He was thought to be 100 years old. Giant tortoises can live well over a century and scientists had expected him to live another few decades.

Attempts were initially made to mate him with two females but the eggs they produced were infertile.

George had become a symbol of the Galapagos Islands, which attracted some 180,000 visitors last year.

The Galapagos’ giant tortoise population was decimated after the arrival of humans but a recovery program run by the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation has increased the overall population from 3,000 in 1974 to 20,000 today.

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