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Gere tours Galapagos, meets unique tortoise

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March 21, 2009 12:31 AM EST | AP


QUITO, Ecuador — Richard Gere may be adopting a new cause: the preservation of the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos National Park spokeswoman Vanessa Garcia says that during a visit to the Ecuadorean islands, he offered to speak out publicly for their conservation.

The Galapagos are home to unique animal and plant species and were a living laboratory for Charles Darwin. But conservationists say they are threatened by development and tourism.

The 59-year-old star of "Pretty Woman" and "Chicago" is touring the archipelago with his wife and son. Ecuadorean TV shows Gere meeting Lonesome George, believed to be the last living member of the Geochelone abigdoni tortoise species.

Gere is an outspoken advocate for human rights in Tibet and other causes.