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Last Tortoise of His Kind Needs a Date

Scientists struggle to find mate for 'Lonesome George'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2011 3:20 PM CDT
Rare Galapagos Pinta Tortoise, Lonesome George, Seeks Mate
In this July 21, 2008, file photo released by the Galapagos National Park, a giant tortoise named "Lonesome George" is seen in the Galapagos islands, an archipelago off Ecuador's Pacific coast.   (AP Photo/ Galapagos National Park)

(Newser) – When you’re the only known member of your species, romance is hard to find. Such is the case for Lonesome George, the last Pinta tortoise in the Galapagos. Since George’s discovery in 1971—at a time when his species was believed to be extinct—scientists have searched far and wide for a mate, the Washington Post reports. They’ve set him up with females belonging to similar species, but he’s tried reproducing only once, as far as anyone knows.

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“We’ve searched so much, but we haven’t managed to find another one,” says a caretaker. “Just skeletons.” And George, who is nearly 100 years old, simply hasn’t shown much interest in females brought to his enclosure. The feeling seems to be mutual, with the creatures hanging out at opposite ends of the pen. But hope remains: “He’s getting to know them,” says the caretaker. Meanwhile, George has managed to achieve celebrity status—and not just among scientists across the globe: T-shirts with his likeness sell for up to $59, and a local meal was named in his honor. (Read more giant tortoise stories.)

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