By CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE
August 23, 2014
A giant tortoise known as ‘Pepe the missionary’ after he spent time living with Franciscan missionaries on the Galapagos islands has died aged 60.
During his life Pepe became famous as a mascot for the missionaries and was a favourite with tourists who came to visit and take photographs with him.
Pepe, who ended his days in a corral at the Galapagos National Park’s
Interpretation Center, died yesterday of natural causes, said the park
ecosystems director Victor Carrion.
|After the death of Lonesome George (pictured), who passed away at an
estimated age fo 100 in 2012, the missionaries
handed Pepe over to the
Galapagos National Park’s Interpretation Center
Pepe was first adopted from the wild by by a family from San Cristobal island in the 1940s before being given over to the mission in 1967.
He lived there until 2012 when he was given over to the national park following the death of Lonesome George, another giant tortoise who was thought to be the last of his species left.
George was thought to be around 100 years old when he passed away, which only made him a young adult, as the species can live up to 200 years old.
While it is not known exactly why Pepe died at such a young age, Mr Carrion said that several of his organs had been slowly failing, adding that Pepe was also overweight.
|Pepe the tortoise, who became famous as the mascot for Franciscan missionaries in the Galapagos Islands,
has died aged 60 of natural causes
Park director Arturo Izurieta paid tribute to the tortoise on Twitter, saying: ‘After 60 years of life, Pepe the Missionary will remain in our memories forever.
‘The disappearance of Pepe the tortoise does not put his species in danger.’
Pepe was a member of the Chelonoidis becki species native to Wolf Volcano on the island of Isabela.
About 2,000 tortoises from the same species still live in their native habitat.
The Galapagos Islands are famous for their unique flora and fauna studied by Charles Darwin as he developed his theory of evolution.
|Giant tortoises still exist in the wild on the Galapagos islands, near
Ecuador. The unique and diverse range of flora
and fauna on the islands
were studied by Darwin as he developed his theory of evolution