Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fun Galapagos Giant Tortoise Facts and How We Can Save Them

These fun Galapagos Giant Tortoise facts will focus on the world's most famous tortoise, Lonesome George. Lonesome George has a story that you won't soon forget. He is the last surviving turtle from Pinta Island. Researchers found him and moved him to the Charles Darwin Research Station where they put him in an enclosure with two females. You think that Lonesome George would be excited to see other tortoises after being alone for so long, especially females, but that was not the case. Lonesome George remained elusive, so elusive in fact that he was celibate for 60 years - talk about a dry spell!

In July he finally mated and a female laid eggs. I was fortunate enough to see George at the Charles Darwin Research Station in person a few weeks after this big adventure and waited anxiously with thousands of other people to see if the eggs would be fertile. In September researchers at the Charles Darwin Research Station announced that the eggs were fertile and moved the eggs to an incubator -YEAH! Galapagos giant tortoises live up until 150 - 200 years so Lonesome George still has quite a few years left but hopefully he will live on long after his passing. I can't wait to see what the little Lonesome George's will look like.
Sources: Galapagos Giant Tortoise, Galapagos Conservation Trust
Further reading about visiting the Galapagos : Galapagos Travel

Why Galapagos Giant Tortoises Need Our Help
In the 18th and 19th many tortoises were killed for food by whalers and believe it or not - pirates. Tortoises can go months without food and water so they were the perfect food for long voyages. Then another culprit was introduced. Any guesses? Believe it or not, the goat. Goats multiplied quickly, destroying all the vegetation so Galapagos Giant Tortoises literally starved to death with nothing to eat. The largest animal eradication on earth occurred on Santa Cruz Island where 100,000 goats were eradicated by sharp shooters from the air. It is a fascinating story and I would encourage you to read Galapagos at the Crossroads for more of the story along with other threats to the Galapagos Giant Tortoises and the Galapagos in general. Today, all Galapagos Giant Tortoise eggs are incubated at the Charles Darwin Research Station and then when the tortoises are old enough to survive they're released back into the wild.

Help Save Galapagos Giant Tortoises