Critter Corner: The Loneliest Animals (1/3)

[Opening this year’s Critter Corner is a series by Ian Corbet, “The Loneliest Animals in the World”. Below is part one of three.]

Full Disclosure: Though this article is in the Just 4 Fun category, there is nothing fun in it.

There are a few things in the world that will reduce even the coldest soul to tears: visiting the pound, watching only the first half of Last Holiday, discovering that there is no chocolate in your house, slowly coming to terms with the fact that George Michael and Maeby’s forbidden love can never be and he’ll just have to settle for Anne*. The following stories of the loneliest animals in the world undoubtedly belong on this list.

Lonesome George with some company.

The heart-broken creatures whose stories are shared in this article are spending their meaningless, short, sad lives completely devoid of any love or companionship. Mating season for these gentle beasts is just a time when they shrink into their dwellings and cry, too embarrassed to ask to be the third wheel on one of the mating rituals. The saddest part is that these animals can’t employ human strategies for coping with heart-crushing loneliness. They cannot simply go out and buy a cat or gorge themselves on fudge filled ice cream sandwiches while scrolling through their crush’s photos on Facebook as The Time Traveler’s Wife plays softly in the background. They can only wander through their habitats looking for a single soul among the endless herds who will love and cherish them as they are.

The first member of this bestial Lonely Hearts Club is perhaps the saddest story any ecologist has had the misfortune to learn. This is the tale of Lonesome George, a Galapagos giant tortoise, who was believed to be the last of his subspecies in existence. George was unfortunately shell-blocked by the introduction of feral goats and cats onto the island that his species called home, before regulations prohibited such detrimental practices. It is presumed that poor old George was left wandering the decimated flora of his empty home, the way a child sifts through the ashes of his old room looking for any keepsake. George was eventually discovered and transferred to a rehabilitation center where he was paired with females of a similar subspecies.

The females proved that the gaping hole in George’s reptilian heart could only be filled with the familiar, caring love of one of those who he had lost, because they were unable to mate with him. The Ecuadorian government (which holds jurisdiction over the Galapagos Islands) attempted for many years to find any suitable mate for George, whose years were slowly slipping away alongside his hope of ever finding love. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to see George and the habitat that had been created for him. The only word comes to mind for describing the enclosure is “empty”. Full of other tortoises, perhaps, but empty- heartbreakingly so. Extinction, rather than being alone on Prom night, is the ultimate state of loneliness.

As of a few months ago, George is no longer alone. He is with God and with his long-lost adolescent potential mate who had been taken so cruelly away from him. Back on Earth, us mortals are racked with the guilt that anti-tortoise sentiment has reached such a level that a species now no longer walks this earth. I personally blame Mario.

*You may be asking yourself the question, “Who?” She’s the character whose name you don’t remember**.

** To answer your second question, “Her?” Yes, her. She’s funny or something.

— Ian Corbet, Arts Editor

Posted by on October 25, 2012. Filed under Just 4 Fun. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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