Last-of-Kind Giant Galapagos Tortoise May Become Father

Published July 22, 2008

| Associated Press

Lonesome George, the long-living Galapagos Islands giant tortoise thought to be the last of his subspecies, might soon be a father.

The Galapagos National Park announced Monday that a female tortoise that has accompanied George since 1993 laid three intact eggs that are being cared for in an artificial incubator.

The female belongs to the closest existing phenotype to that of George, though they are from different islands and hence different subspecies.

The eggs have appeared "after 36 years of multiple efforts ... when we thought it was impossible for the tortoise known as Lonesome George to reproduce," the park said in a statement.

Found in 1972 on Pinta island, George is estimated to be in his 70s — middle age for a giant tortoise.

It will take another 120 days to learn if the eggs are viable.

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