Reading the charming story of boy meets crane, “Love nest” [Washington Post Magazine, July 29], reminded me of a similar story from my decades of work in the Galapagos Islands. Though I would describe the relationship as more transactional than romantic (the goal was reproduction, not companionship), in 1993, volunteer Sveva Grigioni, under the leadership of Linda Cayot, then a herpetologist at the Charles Darwin Research Station, spent three months with Lonesome George, the lone surviving tortoise from the island of Pinta. Working an hour or two at a time, Grigioni’s job was to induce Lonesome George to produce sperm in the hopes that a female tortoise might be artificially inseminated. Lonesome George grew to like Grigioni and appeared to look forward to her visits.
Upon Lonesome George’s death in 2012, Grigioni wrote to Cayot saying that she had hoped to come back to Galapagos with her family to introduce them to her “boyfriend” George. The true affection that Grigioni and many other in Galapagos came to feel for Lonesome George, and the affection that he appeared to bestow on a chosen few, suggests that we are more interconnected as species than estranged from one another.
Compassion, thankfully, is not solely a human trait.
Johannah Barry, Falls Church
The writer is president of the Galapagos Conservancy.