Santa Fe sees Tortoises Return in Commemoration of Lonesome George

Jun 25, 2015

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The Galapagos National Park will commemorate the third anniversary of the death of Lonesome George, the last of his kind, with the reintroduction of 205 giant tortoises on the island of Santa Fe. George was famous as the last member of the Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii subspecies. Found on La Pinta in 1971, he was kept at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz until his death on 24th June, 2012. Attempts to breed him and help preserve his species were sadly unsuccessful. The park will mark his passing, a moving event marked worldwide given the , by releasing the tortoises of the subspecies Chelonoidis nigra hoodensis, native to the island of Española, on the weekend of 27-28 June.

Santa Fe, a small island to the southeast of Santa Cruz, will become home to giant tortoises once again after they were wiped out by whalers centuries ago. Forty of the tortoises aged four to ten will wear GPS trackers to study their habits. The tortoises were bred in captivity and kept until large enough to be safe from native and, in particular, introduced predators like rats and cats. The tortoises will become another visitor attraction for the island, covered in fragrant Palo Santo trees and exotic giant opuntia cacti. The island, visited regularly by our three cruise vessels, is also home to Galápagos sea lions, Galápagos hawks, and a unique species of iguana, the Santa Fe land iguana.

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