Giant Galapagos Tortoise

These magnificent animals, which can weigh up to a quarter of a tonne, are thought to have initially floated to the Galapagos Islands on ocean currents. Their huge size and low metabolism allowed them to survive the 600-mile journey from the mainland of South America. Once established on the Islands, they flourished, at one time in history numbering up to 250,000 individuals. As the tortoises colonised each island of the Galapagos they adapted to each unique habitat, eventually forming distinct new sub-species. New research has revealed that they migrate hundreds of miles across the islands and in doing so they help shape the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos that thrives around them.

Writer /Narrator David Attenborough pays tribute to “Lonesome George”:

The Galapagos Islands are famous for their giant tortoises. One, identified in 1971 and nicknamed “Lonesome George”, was a long-necked, saddle-backed tortoise of the Pinta Island sub-species. With the destruction of their Pinta Island habitat by non-native wild goats, this subspecies was effectively wiped out. Lonesome George was the only known surviving example of this sub-species, and thus one of the rarest known creatures on earth. George lived to around eighty years old and became an icon for conservation efforts. With his passing in 2012, the islands lost one of its most extraordinary inhabitants.