Lonesome George, the famed Galapagos tortoise that became a symbol of the islands and their unique ecosystem, is dead. Like it there are several other animals who became the face of their species.
Lonesome George the Tortoise
The last of the sub-species of Galapagos tortoises, Lonesome George lived on the Pinta Island in Ecuador. Despite many attempts being made to multiply his species, Lonesome George just seemed interested in living an idyllic life on the island. Spotted in 1971 by Hungarian malacologist József Vágvölgyi, George soon became the symbol of conservation of rare species across the globe. His death in June 2012 is a testimony to how rare species become extinct due to ignorance or callousness in conservation. Lonesome George is more than just another rare species, he is a lesson that is never too late to learn.
Cheetah the Chimp
He was the side-kick or rather the star of the Tarzan movies, and definitely not an exaggeration if he stole the limelight on numerous occasions! Cheeta the Chimp was one of the most famous Hollywood animals in the 1930s era. According to the director of Tarzan, Cheeta was an outgoing chimp who loved finger painting and American Football, and loved to see people laugh. He was so smart that he could tell if the director was having a good day or a bad one! Having outlived both the actors who played Tarzan and Jane, Cheeta died in 2011 at the age of 80. There may be speculations on his age, however, he is, and will be adored by all Tarzan movie fans.
Uggie the dog
The four legged Oscar winner Uggie has a tale of his own to tell. This Jack Russell Terrier was abandoned by his last two owners till he was finally adopted by Omar Von Muller. He has starred in the silent movie The Artist and Water for Elephants. After his performances there have been many petitions put up to give the dog its due accreditation. Uggie has now put up his paws literally, as his trainer announced his retirement recently, after winning all that acclaim in the Oscars.
Dolly the sheep
The world’s first cloned sheep Dolly was born in 1996 at the Roslin Institute in Edinburg, Scotland. Interestingly she was named after the famous singer Dolly Parton! When asked if she had any objections to the name, she said, ‘There is no such thing as baa-ad publicity!’ Dolly (the sheep) went on to become the most famous sheep in the world. The victory of cloning was however to be short-lived when she was diagnosed with severe arthritis and lung disease. She was euthanised in 2003 at the age of six. She may have died young, but not without captivating the attention of scientists, researchers and animal lovers. But having ‘married’ David, a mountain Welsh ram, she produced twins Sally and Rosie and then to triplets Lucy, Darcy and Cotton.
Laika the dog
She was the first dog to orbit the earth in the year in 1957. Found as a stray, she was taken by the Soviet scientists and put to train with other dogs as they believed that a stray was more resilient to the harsh weather variations. She was ‘a good dog who never fought with others’, according to a Russian magazine. The good dog may not have survived for more than a few hours in orbit, but went on to become an iconic dog. Many years later, many dogs have attempted to grab the coveted ‘ambassadorship’, but Laika definitely set the milestone.
Keiko the orca
The killer whale in the movie Free Willy, Keiko starred in all the Free Willy movies. His name Keiko in Japanese means Lucky one. Captured in Ireland, Keiko was sold to the marine park industry after which began his stardom in as he starred in Free Willy movies. Many attempts were made to reintegrate Keiko with his killer whale species, but he always seemed to look for human companionship. He was released in 2002 into the ‘wilderness’ of the ocean, but he swam hundreds of kilometers looking for human companionship. He died in 2003, but not before becoming the brand ambassador for whale conservation initiatives across the globe. RIP Keiko.
Other notable mentions are
- Paul the Octopus
- Heidi the cross-eyed possum
- Bubbles the chimp- MJ’s pet