Research

Saving a Species

Helping prepare giant tortoises for the wild.

Researchers holding a tortoise.

Helping prepare giant tortoises for the wild.

As many as 250,000 giant tortoises once roamed the Galapagos Islands, but exploitation by humans has shrunk this number to as low as 3,000. 

Thanks to the Galapagos National Park’s effective breeding center, 6,700 tortoises are now alive and well on San Cristobal Island. Much of the work conducted by the Galapagos National Park is linked to the science conducted at the Galapagos Science Center (GSC), a hub for academic research jointly operated by the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Researchers, such as Soledad Sarzosa, work full time at the GSC and lead assessments that determine which giant tortoises are ready to be released into the wild.

“It’s a big responsibility to represent the Galapagos Science Center in these health assessments,” said Sarzosa. “I’m really glad to be a part of it. It’s hard work, but knowing that the Galapagos National Park is releasing healthy animals into the wild is something that is in my heart, and I will take that with me every day.”

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