15 Giant Tortoises Save a Species

In a race against time to save giant tortoises from extinction, biologists with the Española Tortoise Program on the Galapagos Islands in the 1960s captured the 14 remaining tortoises in the wild to begin what has become one of the most successful captive breeding programs in human history.

Joined by a giant tortoise already in captivity at the San Diego Zoo, these 15 tortoises sired more than 1900 offspring which have been introduced into the wild. One tortoise, “Diego” alone sired 40% of all the offspring.

Ecuador’s Minister of Environment and Water Paulo Proaño said, “This captive breeding program, in addition to the management actions implemented on Española island, give us peace of mind that we managed to save a species that would otherwise have become extinct. It can only be described as successful and an example of the conservation efforts that we implement as a National Government in synergy with our allies.”

Tortoise returning home after more than 50 years in captivity. Source: Española Island tortoise – Galapagos Conservancy

Initially, researchers planned to reintroduce the original 15 giant tortoises back to the Galapagos Islands in March, but were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, June 15, the scientists successfully reintroduce the tortoises on Española Island in a lush patch of cacti, one of the tortoises favorite foods, to start their new lives back home.

Source: Good News Network