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Pepe the Missionary dead at 60

Camilla Dutchess of Cornwall poses with giant Galapagos tortoise..
Camilla Dutchess of Cornwall poses with giant Galapagos tortoise..
Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Galapagos Islands’ most famous giant tortoise, Pepe, has passed away according to Victor Carrion, ecosystems director at the Galapagos National Park's Interpretation Center, where he had lived since 2012 after being given to the preserve by Franciscan missionaries as a replacement for another giant tortoise, Lonesome George, who died at the age of 100 or so, that year. The missionaries had taken care of Pepe since 1967 after receiving him from a family who had first adopted him in San Cristobal Island in the 1940’s.
"Several of his organs had been slowly failing and he was also overweight,” Carrion told the AFP.
Pepe was a member of the Chelonoidis becki (aka Wolf Volcano tortoise) species native to the island of Isabela. Unlike Lonesome George, who was believed to be the last surviving member of his Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii subspecies, Pepe leaves behind an estimated 2,000 chelonidis beckies still living in the wild in the Galapagos.

In the meantime, The Galapagos Marine Reserve announced that a scientific study conducted by the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo of Mexico and the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador discovered two new species of fish in the Galapagos National Park last month. The first, dubbed Scorpaenodes sp, measures up to 10 centimeters long and was found living in the rocky reef area off the islands of Isabela, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, and Española, while the other, Gobiomuros sp, is about 25 inches in length and lives along the coast in bodies of water fed by fresh water on the island San Cristóbal.

Not only does their discovery “represent a breakthrough not only for science, but also provides evidence that counters the belief that there is continuous connectivity in the marine environment given that there are no geographic barrier,” according to officials at the Galapagos Marine Preserve, one of the largest in the world, encompassing approximately 133,000 square kilometers, and home to more than 2,900 extant species, as well as a minimum of 24 species of marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and sea lions.