Will Lonesome George ever be a dad? Scientists who hope so are trying to mate the near century-old giant tortoise from the Galapagos, despite failed efforts going back 20 years.
The Galapagos National Park are providing two new female partners for George, who is believed to be the last living member of the Geochelone abigdoni species.
George is estimated to be between 90 and 100 and could have at least 50 more years ahead of him.
For the past 20 years, he has lived with two previous female partners, of the similar but different Geochelone becki species. The females laid eggs in 2008, 2009 and last year, but none resulted in viable offspring.
Scientists now believe George may have a better chance of reproducing with his two new partners, of the Geochelone hoodensis species.
The two potential mates arrived yesterday from the archipelago’s Spanish Island on Santa Cruz island where George lives.
Genetic studies conducted by Yale University have shown that the newly-arrived tortoises “are genetically closer … more compatible, and could offer greater possibilities of producing offspring”, the park said.
The Galapagos island chain, about 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast, is home to unique animal species that inspired Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution.