Famed Galapagos tortoise to be embalmed, displayed

June 26, 2012 - 11:29 AM
Ecuador Lonesome George

In this photo released by the Galapagos National Park Direction, DPNG, the body of the famed Galapagos giant tortoise Lonesome George is removed on stretcher from a corral at the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The Galapagos National Park says in a statement that the tortoise estimated to be about 100 years old died Sunday. Various mates had been provided for Lonesome George over the years in unsuccessful attempts to keep his subspecies alive. (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park Direction)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — The beloved Galapagos Islands giant tortoise known as Lonesome George will remain a tourist attraction even in death.

Ecuador's environment minister says the reptile that became a symbol of disappearing species will be embalmed and placed on display on Santa Cruz island.

Minister Marcela Aguinaga told reporters Tuesday that an autopsy determined that Lonesome George died of old age. He was believed to be about 100 years old.

Lonesome George was the last of the Pinta Island giant tortoise subspecies, and he failed to leave offspring despite the best efforts of conservationists.

He was discovered in 1972 discovery on Pinta Island and became an ambassador of sorts for the archipelago off Ecuador's coast whose unique flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.