I went to see Lonesome George (Chelonoidis abingdoni) today, his last day at the American Natural History Museum before returning to Ecuador. He was tucked away in a turret on the fourth floor, through throngs of adults posing for photos and kids scurrying underfoot.
He deserved better than to be the last of his kind.
This is going to make me sound like an overwrought tree-hugger, but I went to pay my respects. He was beautiful, and majestic, and the last one, sealed in a glass cage. His remarkably long neck stretched forward, as if there was still something just out of reach.
Someone nearby commented from the display information that there are closely related species on other islands, so it’s not as big of a deal. I nobly refrained from grabbing him, with his coiffed side-swept hair and skinny jeans, and shaking him while wildly yelling, “IT IS A BIG DEAL! WE HAVE LEARNED NOTHING FOR CENTURIES AND KEEP SENDING UNIQUE, IRREPLACEABLE FORMS OF LIFE INTO THE VOID FOR NO DEFENSIBLE REASON!”
Instead I read about the Pinta Island Tortoise and apologized to Lonesome George in my head, over and over and over again.
For a compelling podcast on the changes occurring on the Galapagos Islands:
For information on Lonesome George and Pinta Island Tortoises: