Lonesome George dies 巨龟孤独乔治死了

Vocabulary:age and ageing 詞匯:年齡和上年歲的詞匯

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Giant tortoise, Lonesome George

What age would you like to live to?

Many people often live to a ripe old age, but 'Lonesome George', a giant tortoise, was estimated to have been over 100 years old.

This week his keeper of 40 years, Fausto Llerena, sadly found him dead in his enclosure.

Over the years Lonesome became a symbol of the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador, which attracts over 180,000 visitors each year. He received his nickname as he often shied away from female company.

Although 100 would be long in the tooth for most humans, for giant tortoises Lonesome was relatively young: some are thought to live to 200 years of age.

Although advanced in years, he wasn't over the hill and had been trying to father offspring with a female partner. Considered to be in his sexual prime, he was however unsuccessful as the eggs produced were subsequently found to be infertile.

Environmentalists are particularly upset at his death because Lonesome was the last of his subspecies of Pinta tortoises.

In the good old days of the 19th century, tortoises were plentiful on the Galapagos Islands. Since then they have been hunted for their meat to the point of extinction. There now remain around 20,000 other subspecies of tortoise on the islands, but these creatures are now considered rare and endangered.

Lonesome's body will now be embalmed so that visitors to the park can view the body and the legacy of his subspecies can live on.