Tortoise Rearing Center and the Highlands

Sep 24, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


What a different view out our windows this morning! Buildings, boats of all sizes, and the hustle and bustle of humans in action.

After breakfast we set off to visit the Giant Tortoise Rearing Center on the far southern edge of town. It is here that the Galapagos giant tortoise has been brought back from the edge of extinction by tremendous efforts from many people and places. People from the Galapagos National Park Service, from the Charles Darwin Research Station, other non-profits over the years, and even locals, have all played an important role in the survival of these very special animals.

The rearing center makes sure the small hatchlings make it to “rat-proof” size, before they are then returned to their island of origin. We were fortunate enough to see them in their early stages of life…up to around five years old, the age of release into the wild. We also saw the enormous individuals, many of them involved in the breeding program, with the objective of increasing population size! And this has been very successful over the 50+ years the program has been running.

In the afternoon, in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island we wandered fields in rubber boots, cameras in hand, gawking at the behemoths calmly grazing their way through the day. With photo instruction under our belts, time lapse settings on smart phones produced some quirky videos of quickly moving tortoises. But for me, what I saw in reviewing these videos, was how quickly we humans go through life, moving fast, coming and going. The tortoises have it down…move slowly, eat slowly, and live a long life!

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About the Author

Cindy Manning

Expedition Leader

Born in Lima, Peru, of North American parents, Cindy and her family subsequently lived in several South American and European countries with a couple stops in Peoria, Illinois. Cindy received a degree in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Afterwards, Cindy spent a year and a half teaching science in the Western Province of Kenya, East Africa. 

About the Videographer

Andres Cruz

Video Chronicler

Andrés grew up in Floreana, an island with 150 inhabitants in the Galápagos Archipelago. Living without internet, television or cellphones encourages him to become a creative observer and a nature lover. He spent most of his childhood interacting with giant tortoises, lizards, penguins, finches and other creatures while exploring his surroundings.

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