After a year-long renovation at the Charles Darwin Research Station that limited visits to certain areas, we are happy to announce that it is now fully open with exciting new additions and improvements, including the Lonesome George exhibit, one of the most famous Galapagos tortoises!
Following Lonesome George’s demise in 2013, his remains were taken to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was embalmed and made part of an exhibition up until 2016. It was then decided he would come back home, to the Galapagos Islands, where a newly built exhibit room was waiting for him. On 24 February, the Charles Darwin Research Station opened the doors to George’s “Symbol of Hope” exhibit room, along with its new “Tortoise Trail” walkways, which guide the visitor around the different areas of the Station.
The New “Symbol of Hope”: The Lonesome George Exhibit Room
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Special measures were taken to preserve the body of Lonesome George inside the new exhibit. The “Symbol of Hope” room was built from a metal structure. It was then covered by metal panels and other materials that help to keep the room within very specific conditions to guarantee the preservation of Lonesome George. Due to the fact that George’s remains cannot be exposed to sunlight, a special glass was installed that reflects ultraviolet rays. The room also has its own back-up electrical system to help keep the room at exactly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), relative humidity of 55% and a luminosity no greater than 50 Lux (equivalent to five candles). Lastly, the room has an adjacent laboratory for the periodic maintenance of the remains of the Galapagos giant tortoise.
The Work of the Charles Darwin Research Station
The newly inaugurated exhibition room hopes to inform its visitors about the efforts that the Charles Darwin Research Station has made to prevent other species from ever being at the risk of extinction. Its role in the conservation of the islands’ fragile ecosystem is vital. Amongst its many functions, the Station monitors the Galapagos Islands and keeps all data up to date. It also supervises the visits to the islands, alongside the Galapagos National Park Service, and oversees human activity and its impact on the environment.
The “Tortoise Trail”
The “Tortoise Trail” walkway now follows a totally new route, along which you can find rest stops and information points. These walkways go through the breeding areas for small tortoises and continue all the way up to the new “Symbol of Hope” room, the highlight of the visit. The room can be visited every day from 8:00 to 18:00, except on scheduled maintenance days. Afterward, visitors walk past the Galapagos giant tortoises’ area before entering the Station’s museum.
A gift shop can be found at the end of your visit, which sells books on the Galapagos Islands flora and fauna, as well as an assortment of handicrafts and souvenirs. And of course, do not miss the opportunity to try out the locally-grown coffee on the Station’s Café. You won’t regret it.
We can’t wait to share all of this with you personally on your next trip to Galapagos!