Tortoise Breeding Center and Highlands

Jan 29, 2020 - National Geographic Islander


Each night National Geographic Islander sails to its next destination, and this morning we woke up to see a wonderful new island. This time we reached the second largest island of the archipelago, Santa Cruz Island.

Our first part of the day was spent at the Galapagos Giant Tortoises Breeding Center located in the Galapagos National Park Headquarters. Here, we were able to see newborn tortoises from the island of Floreana and Santiago. These little ones are kept in nice big enclosures until their shells harden enough so animals like rats cannot prey on them easily. After they reach a certain size, they’re moved to a nice rocky garden where they learn to travel and eat on their own before being repatriated. We also saw a few adult tortoises from various islands like Floreana and Pinta, however these specimens are not the pure species from those islands, but they do carry genes from the islands in mention.

After our time at the center we went up to the highlands and visited a sugar cane and coffee farm where we learned how brown and grain alcohol sugar is processed. The most adventurous guests decided to cross a lava tunnel that passes by this farm. In actuality, the longest and widest tunnels are found in Santa Cruz Island!

At noon, we had a tasty lunch at a local farm known as the Manzanillo. We saw so many gentle giants roaming around at their own pace, sleeping, and eating different grass. Besides the tortoises, we were also able to identify a few Darwin finches, such as small, medium, ground finches and tree finches.

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About the Author

Magdalena Terneus

Naturalist

Magdalena Terneus has always been passionate about nature, and an animal lover ever since she can remember.   Magdalena studied Natural Science- Biology at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship, with the idea of working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands.  After graduating from Lock Haven, she went back to Ecuador and worked in the La Selva Lodge in the Ecuadorean rain forest.   After working in the rain forest, she took the Galapagos guide course, so she could work as a guide in the Galapagos Islands.

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