After 15 years' foreplay, tortoise finally mates
Friday 24 July 2009
Lonesome George, the world's most inveterate bachelor, may finally be about to settle down.
The 90-year-old Pinta island tortoise is the last of his kind, and scientists have been coaxing the giant tortoise to mate with a similar species for 15 years – but, despite being in his sexual prime, George has shown little interest.
Last year, one of the many female giant tortoises to have tried their luck finally succeeded in seducing him. It was the first time George had succumbed in 36 years – but the resulting eggs turned out to be infertile.
Undeterred, his Galapagos Island handlers tried again this year. And on Monday, they found five eggs in his compound at the Charles Darwin research station on the island of Santa Cruz.
Now conservationists must wait out the 120-day incubation period to see if any of this year's batch contains a tiny tortoise sprog. If so, it may be time to give George a new nickname.
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