The Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) is an extinct subspecies of Galápagos tortoise native to Ecuador’s Pinta Island. The last known individual of the subspecies was a male named Lonesome George (Spanish: Solitario Jorge), who died on 24 June 2012. In his last years, he was known as the rarest creature in the world. George served as a potent symbol for conservation efforts in the Galápagos and internationally.
George was first seen on the island of Pinta on 1 December 1971 by Hungarian malacologist József Vágvölgyi. The island’s vegetation had been devastated by introduced feral goats, and the indigenous C. n. abingdoni population had been reduced to a single individual. It is thought that he was named after a character played by American actor George Gobel. Relocated for his safety to the Charles Darwin Research Station, George was penned with two females of a different subspecies. Although eggs were produced, none hatched. The Pinta tortoise was pronounced functionally extinct as George was in captivity. On 24 June 2012, Lonesome George died of unknown natural causes. He was believed to be over 100 years old, and he weighed 200 lbs. The event marked the total extinction of his subspecies.