Photos, Travel

Tortoises At The Charles Darwin Research Station in The Galapagos Islands.

March 20, 2011
Attempting To Hide From The Adoring Paparazzi

Learning About Lonesome George

Lonesome George is NOT gay. He is definitely NOT gay!” Our guide at the Charles Darwin Research Station seemed angered by the question. He went on to say “We once saw him copulating with a female tortoise“.

Lonesome George (Solitario Jorge in Spanish) is the rarest creature on earth, the last Pinta Island tortoise, a sub-specie of the Galapagos tortoise.  He is estimated to be at least 60 – 90 years old. He is the station’s most famous resident and is an internationally recognized symbol for conservation in The Galapagos Islands.

Sadly Lonesome George is the last of his kind. Yet he’s anything but lonesome, as he’s viewed by adoring fans each and every day and is also penned with two female mates. Despite his “menage-a-trois” situation, he’s never been able to successfully produce offspring.

At the time of my visit in May 2007, rumors abounded online that Lonesome George was gay. He had never been known to participate in mating rituals with fellow female tortoises, let alone spawn mini versions of himself.

When mention of George’s possible sexual orientation was made, our guide went on a rant to advise us that Lonesome George did indeed love females.  In fact, George has since mated twice (in 2008 and again in 2009) but none of the eggs were found to be viable.

The Charles Darwin Research Station

Is seeing Lonesome George with your own eyes on your travel bucket list? Well, if you’re ever lucky enough to be able to do so, you can see him in the flesh (or in his case … shell) at the Charles Darwin Research Station located on Santa Clara Island.  The station is run by The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands,  a nonprofit organization dedicated to the proper preservation of the Galapagos Islands.

Lonesome George was rescued in 1971 from Pinta Island and would have died had this not happened. Many things threaten the delicate ecological balance of the Galapagos and in George’s case it was feral goats. These goats destroyed the island’s vegetation that George and his kind relied on for sustenance.  Fortunately efforts are being made to remedy this situation.

The station is home to a very successful tortoise breeding program which began in 1965.  Thanks to the hard work of the scientists and other staff who run the program, many tortoises have been successfully bred and eventually released into the wild.

Treat Yourself To Tortoise Photos

Two giant tortoises engaged in the act of mating.

Tortoise Mating In Action

Tortoise Mating In Action

This is one coupling that won’t be successful. Both tortoises are male! Lonesome George is not gay, but one of these tortoises clearly likes males.

Too Bad Both Tortoises Are Male

Too Bad Both Tortoises Are Male

A couple of tortoises just hanging out.

Join The Tortoise Train.

Join The Tortoise Train.

My favorite shot.

Attempting To Hide From The Adoring Paparazzi

Attempting To Hide From The Adoring Paparazzi

Baby tortoises, part of the station’s successful breeding program.

Baby Tortoises

Baby Tortoises

OMG. It’s Lonesome George.

Lonesome George Is The Rarest Creature on Earth

Lonesome George Is The Rarest Creature on Earth

My old friend, Lonesome George. Such an extraordinary being. I hope one day that he’ll be able to make babies!

Lonesome George

Lonesome George

Enjoy Some Videos

Check out the hungry tortoise.

Or how about the tortoise humping action? Hear the grunts.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Laurel March 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I’m so jealous of your photos of Lonesome George. I went to the Charles Darwin Research Station 4 times hoping to get a good photo of him, but he was always too far away. I love his story though and the research station was one of the highlights of my trip to the Galagpagos.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard March 31, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      4 times!? Lucky you. 🙂

      I too loved the research station. I hope that Lonesome George can one day father some offspring.

  • Reply Sea Lions In The Galapagos Islands. April 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    […] could have left the Galapagos Islands with a love for the giant tortoises like Lonesome George, the blue footed boobies and even the land iguanas. Instead, I left with a new found love for sea […]

  • Reply An Ode To Lonesome George. | cherylhoward.com June 26, 2012 at 12:50 am

    […] sure to check my article about Lonesome George and all the wonderful things that are being done by the The Charles Darwin Foundation for the […]

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