Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 16:50 GMT
Lonely pets seek love on the net
GSOH, needs to come out of shell ...
Lonesome George may be the only member of his species left on the planet - but he seems to be far from the only member of the animal kingdom lacking a significant other.
Scientists working on a specialised DNA data base - known as the tortoise dating agency - for the 30 years celibate Galapagos Island-dwelling giant tortoise, hope they have pinpointed a suitable sub-species for him to get cosy with.
But animal Cupid is also at work for the less exotic, but almost as lonely, pets and animals of the globe, across the ether of cyberspace.
Sites dealing with the birds and the bees for four-legged friends are not all that common.
But as American dog-lover, Sandy, writes on Pets Forum: " ... pedigree sites are all very well, but I want a soul mate for Zuki [her dog]."
And so, would it appear, do the animal lovers posting personal ads for their pets.
Bradley, a house rabbit owner writing from the USA, is appealing for "a docile and friendly doe" to befriend his recently bereaved male house rabbit, Gordon.
His advert reads: " ... Jenny [deceased bunny] fought her cancer for nearly one year and bravely survived surgery for tumours."
Other pet personals are not quite so tear-jearking.
Suzy the Dobermann Labrador cross - a resident of California - wants to find "a life partner who wants to run on the beach and play fight".
Suzy's owner remains anonymous, but will presumably be on hand to vet e-mail from cyber-suitors and chaperone the coastal romance.
He or she might even enhance Suzy's chances of making a good impression by investing in anything from haute couture to customised canine water beds - all available online.
Future puppies could be named with the help of sites like 2000 Dog Names - what to call your puppy.
But it is always a possibility that the real lonely hearts are the pet owners themselves.
Indeed, a couple of dating agencies have realised the isolation that certain levels of pet devotion can impose, and have set up special services for "animal people".
The president of Pet Lovers Unite dating agency writes that he was inspired to create the service when his two "family members and best friends", Zorro and Samantha the cats, passed away.
Information on the site says that not only will members know their pet priorities will be understood - but that they will already have interests in common with other correspondents.
Animalpeople is an agency with a similar ethos - and attracts lonesome owners of everything from turtles to ferrets.
A woman from Arkansas writes: "Hey, doesn't anyone out there appreciate the loveable natures of the ferret? I own seven of the fuzzballs and I would love to meet someone else who is as obsessed and taken with them as I am ... looking for a friend with an affinity for nature, ferrets and animals in general with a good sense of humour ..."
And Holly from Canada writes: "I am looking for friends that love turtles as much as I do. I have two turtles, Zeke and Franklin. They are three years old and very handsome. I am obsessed with them. Please e-mail if you feel the same way about turtles."
But as the conventional agony aunts sometimes advise - just taking a walk in the park with your dog can lead to friendships being made. And that may be true for the dog too.