Bring the Pinta Island Tortoise Back to Life

Target: Richard Wood, President of the Galapagos Conservancy Board of Directors

Goal: Bring back the now extinct Pinta Island Tortoise

With the June 24 passing of Lonesome George (pictured), the last of the Galapagos’ Pinta Island tortoises, the nail was all but in the coffin for the dying species. That is until now—according to researchers, the Pinta Island subspecies may be able to return to life with the help of 17 other tortoises that contain similar genetic makeup to that of Lonesome George and other Pinta Island tortoises. After taking DNA samples from 1,600 tortoises on Wolf Island, a small island in the Galapagos archipelago, scientists were able to find the Pinta sequence in 17 other tortoises.

Scientists believe that careful cross-breeding of these 17 individuals over a long period of time can result in the 100% reemergence of the Pinta Island species. The research, which was carried about by researchers from Yale University and the Galapagos Park and funded by the Galapagos Conservancy, involved transporting these distinct tortoises to the park’s breeding center on Santa Cruz—the same island that inspired Charles Darwin to pen his evolutionary theories many years ago.

“It would be the first time that a species was recovered after having been declared extinct,” explained Edwin Naula, director of the Galapagos National Park. But bringing back the dead will have to take some time; Naula estimates that we will not see the desired results until about 100 to 150 years from now. It may seem a wait, but compared to evolutionary standards this is a great achievement for science and nature. To encourage the Galapagos Conservancy to continue its work in bringing back the Pinta Island tortoise, please sign the petition below.


Dear Mr. Wood,

The recent loss of Lonesome George was not just the end of one of the Galapagos’ biggest celebrities; it was also an end to one of the world’s largest tortoise species. But according to researchers, this now-extinct species may be able to be brought back to life with the help of 17 other tortoises with similar genetic makeup. Through years of cross-breeding among this small group, the Pinta Island tortoise may be able to reemerge in 100 to 150 years’ time.

In addition to a miraculous result, this could mean much more to the future of cross-breeding sciences and threatened species around the world. With George already passed, it is now up to humans to work to bring this incredible species back to life. I have added my name to this petition to encourage you and your team to keep with your work in bringing the Pinta Island tortoise back to life.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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430 Signatures

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