The Galápagos National Park has announced the death of its most iconic inhabitant, the 100-year-old giant tortoise Lonesome George.
The saddest news is that George, who has died of unknown causes, was the last specimen of a subspecies. Still, long gone are the days when these reptiles were hunted for their meat by sailors and fishermen in the Galápagos Islands, and some 20,000 giant tortoises, which can live up to 200 years old, still live there.
Like George, there have been many famous rare animals much loved around the world. Here is a list of some of them:
Belinda the Spider – By no means as adorable as George, still, this Mexican red-kneed bird-eating spider was a staple on 1990s television – it featured on zoo adverts and hypnotherapy sessions, to name a few appearances. It died aged 22.
Goldie the Eagle – British media doesn’t need much encouragement to make a phenomenon out of a petty incident, so when Goldie, the golden eagle (not the drum & bass producer) escaped from the London Zoo in 1965, Britain became obsessed. After almost a fortnight he was finally recaptured and brought back to his home.
Guy the Gorilla – It was on Guy Fawkes day, 1947, when a cuddling little gorilla arrived at the London Zoo clutching a hot-water bottle. This much loved creature was the star of the Zoo for decades, before dying of a heart attack after a minor operation in 1978. You can still visit his statue at the Zoo.
Copito de Nieve, the albino gorilla – Copito de Nieve (snowflake in Spanish), has been the only known albino gorilla so far, and he the most popular inhabitant of the Barcelona Zoo for almost 40 years. He suffered from skin cancer, an illness caused by his albinism, and was euthanized in 2003. Thousands visited the zoo to say goodbye to Copito.
*If you want to see giant tortoises in a natural habitat, visit the Crocodile & Giant Tortoises Park in Mauritius, a wildlife enclave set in an scenic rain forested valley with natural freshwater springs. For a free holiday to Mauritius enter Kenwood Travel’s latest competition and good luck!