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Body of tortoise 'Lonesome George' returned to Galapagos Islands
This file photo taken on March 18, 2009 shows Lonesome George, the last known individual of the Pinta Island Tortoise, one of the eleven subspecies of Galapagos tortoise, at Galapagos National Park's breeding center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz island, Galapagos. The embalmed body of the giant tortoise, who died in 2012, arrived at Puerto Ayora, the capital of Santa Cruz island, on February 18, 2017, on an Ecuadorian military plane, after undergoing taxidermy work at New York's American Museum of Natural History, the Galapagos National Park reported. RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP.

QUITO (AFP).- The embalmed body of the giant tortoise known as Lonesome George -- the last known survivor of a species that died out in 2012 -- returned home to the Ecuadoran Galapagos Islands.

The body arrived in Puerto Ayora, the capital of the archipelago's Santa Cruz Island, on an Ecuadoran military plane after undergoing taxidermy work at New York's American Museum of Natural History, the Galapagos National Park said.

The giant tortoise -- thought to be around a century old when he died in June 2012 -- was the last known member of the subspecies Geochelone nigra abingdoni.

He failed to reproduce despite a decades long conservation effort that earned him the moniker "Lonesome George."

His body is now on display at the park after having starred in an exhibition at the New York museum from September 2014-January 2015.

The Pacific island chain is famous for its unique flora and fauna studied by Charles Darwin as he developed his theory of evolution.

Of the 15 species of giant tortoise known to have originated in the Galapagos, three, including George's, have gone extinct -- victims of plundering 18th-century pirates who damaged the islands' fragile ecosystem.

© Agence France-Presse

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