Tortoise Breeding Center Sets Access Restrictions
August 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
According to Radio Sucre
The Galapagos National Park has restricted access to two of the six pens at The Fuasto Llerena Center for Reproduction and Breeding Captive Giant Tortoise. The Fausto Llerena Center is located on the island of Santa Cruz and is part of the Charles Darwin Research Station home of Lonesome George.
The two pens which were previously opened to the public have been closed due actions by visitors to the site. Park officials site that visitors have been touching the Giant Tortoises located in the pens. As well as leaving trash and walking on the tortoise platforms in order to pose for pictures. These actions are both illegal within the park and can be hazardous the the health and well being of the Giant Tortoise, the symbol of the Galapagos.
Galapagos Park rules strictly prohibit the touching or handling of animals at any prohibit littering at any time and restrict the access of the tortoise pens to stay away from the feeding platforms to avoid contamination or illness to the tortoises from introduced organisms that may be on the soles of shoes. Visitors are encouraged to pose for picutes with the tortoises as long as they do not touch these gentle giants or walk on the feeding platform.
Though the closure of the pens does not significantly change the visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, park authorities will continue to monitor the situation to determine if the restriction is temporary or permanent.
The Fausto Llerena Center receives about 7,800 visitors a month and currently houses 925 youth and 70 adult turtles. It has been the primary center for the Galapagos Tortoise Breeding Project. This project, which began in the 1970’s has been an incredible success in helping repopulate the Galapagos Giant Tortoise population.
Of the 11 species that were once considered to be endangered species 10 subspecies of Galapagos Tortoise have been brought up to guarded levels. The most noted success story is that of the Espanola Tortoises. When the project began the Hood Tortoise population consisted of 2 males and 11 females. These tortoises were brought to the Darwin Station. Miraculously a third male was discovered at the San Diego Zoo and brought to the Darwin Station to join the others in a captive breeding program. These 13 tortoises are the parents of over 1000 young tortoises now roam free on Espanola.