Lonesome George – will he become a Dad? | November 6th, 2008

20 years ago, Lonesome George, the last surviving Pinta Tortoise Geochelone Abingdoni, lived all alone and in a pen at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos. He was overweight and no one really knew what to do with him. Then along came Dr. Linda Cayot, the CDRS resident herpetologist and decided to try and get him to breed. Being overweight affects the reproductive ability of reptiles, so the first job was to put him on a healthy diet and the second to give him some female company.  Twenty years on, these efforts may have been successful in helping the Pinta tortoise to survive.

In July a female Volcan Wolf Tortoise G. becki, imaginatively named No. 107, was found to have laid 9 eggs. Five of these were in good shape and were placed in incubators. Shortly afterwards, another of George’s female companions, with the equally exciting name of No. 106, laid a further eight eggs, all of which were in

good condition. These were also placed in incubators, some at temperatures to produce female tortoises, and some set to produce males – reptile sex determination depends upon incubation temperature.  We now have to wait until November to see whether any of the eggs were fertile. If so, George will at last have become a father, if not then he will have to try again, but at least there is now real hope that the Pinta tortoise genes will not die with George.  We will post the latest news on our website as soon as we have it. If you have any suggestions for suitable names for George’s partners, we would love to hear from you.