July 13, 2000
By joining the "Friends of the Tortoises", a children's club,
Galapagos children can learn interesting facts about tortoises as well as how they can help protect them and their environment. The children have the opportunity to work in the tortoise rearing centers, which were established by the Charles Darwin Research Center and the Galapagos National Park on the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela to save the giant tortoises. The children assist in the removal of eggs from nests in areas where tortoises are threatened by introduced species. They then help transport and place them in incubators so they will develop and hatch in safety. The temperature of the incubators determines the sex of the hatchlings.
The tortoises are reared in corrals covered by anti-rat screens where they remain for 2 years, after which they are placed in " preadaptation corrals" until they reach 5 years of age. The children are involved in feeding, weighing and measuring the tortoises as well as taking part in exhibits and talks about them. For the children, By far the most rewarding part of the program is when they assist with the reintroduction of the giant tortoises into the wild.
Listen to Roger Payne's Voice from the Sea piece entitled:
How Finches and Tortoises Contributed to the Theory of Evolution
How Finches Explained Tortoises to Darwin
How the Galapagos Islands Saved Giant Tortoises From All But Humans
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