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The Telegraph, January 21, 2011

Will Lonesome George finally find a mate?

Lonesome George, the Galapagos's most eligible bachelor, is to be given two new potential mates in an attempt to finally produce offspring.

George, a tortoise believed to be the last living member of the Geochelone abigdoni species, is thought to be almost 100 years old, and could have another 50 years ahead of him.

For the past two decades, he has live with two previous female partners, of a similar but different species. The females laid eggs in 2008, but none resulted in viable offspring.

Scientists now believe George may have a better chance of producing with his two new partners, of the Geochelone hoodensis species.

The two potential mates arrived on Santa Cruz island, where George lives, on Thursday from the archipelago's Spanish Island.

Genetic studies have shown that the newly arrived tortoises "are genetically closer ... more compatible, and could offer greater possibilities of producing offspring," the park's statement said.

The Galapagos island chain, about 620 miles off Ecuador's coast, is home to unique animal species that inspired Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2011

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton