New York, NY, March 12, 2013 -/WORLD-WIRE/-
On Monday, March 11, 2013, Lonesome George, the last known pure Pinta Island giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands who died on June 24, 2012, traveled to New York to be made ready for permanent display in Galapagos. This expedition was made possible by a joint effort of the Galapagos National Park Directorate, the American Museum of Natural History, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Galapagos Conservancy, who provided the funding to transport George to and from New York as well as for the taxidermy work.
Lonesome George’s body was escorted from the Galapagos National Park headquarters in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to John F. Kennedy International Airport by Dr. James Gibbs, Professor of Environmental Science at SUNY- ESF. Dr. Gibbs has worked on countless conservation initiatives in Galapagos and is currently working with the Government of Ecuador through the Galapagos National Park Directorate to provide management advice and scientific guidance.
In New York, Lonesome George’s body was received by the American Museum of Natural History, which played an instrumental role in the complex process of moving a specimen of Lonesome George’s biological and cultural importance through various international travel channels. George was then transported via van to Woodland Park, New Jersey, where taxidermy will be undertaken by George Dante, Jr. of Wildlife Preservations. With the tortoise’s body well frozen in Galapagos for the last nine months, all indications are positive that his body will eventually go on display.
Lonesome George will then be returned to the Galapagos Islands to take up residence in a newly-built visitor center in 2014. The new center, located in Puerto Ayora, will be dedicated to the memory of Lonesome George and will tell the important story of tortoise conservation in Galapagos over the last half century. Dr. Linda Cayot, Galapagos Conservancy’s Science Advisor who worked with Lonesome George for more than a decade said, “George’s story has played an important role in the development of the next steps in tortoise conservation throughout the archipelago. We look forward to a new and important chapter in biodiversity protection.”
Galapagos Conservancy leads a collaborative effort to balance both conservation and a thriving community in one of the world’s most remarkable ecosystems. We work with an international network of top-tier scientists, policy makers, and Galapagos residents on programs focused on ecosystem restoration, knowledge management for policy making, and building a sustainable society in the islands. In collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, GC funded the international tortoise workshop in July 2012, aimed at developing the next 10 years of tortoise research and management in Galapagos, and continues to participate and invest directly in tortoise conservation efforts in the islands. Our work is made possible by our 12,000 members, most of whom have visited Galapagos.
Dr. Linda Cayot, Science Advisor, Galapagos Conservancy