As anticipated, I saw some large creatures in the Galápagos; however, I didn’t expect to see tortoises up close. Manolo also took Juan and I to another destination we couldn’t skip, which was filled with these native species.
Interestingly enough, “galapago” meant “saddle” in Spanish, which described the shells on these animals’ backs.
Tortoises can actually live up to 150 years (the average lifespan being 120 on the islands). They can also weigh up to 250 pounds for females and 500 pounds for males! At this facility, the young tortoises between the ages of one and five are separated: fed individually, heavily cared for and combined with the older tortoises at age five.
Although the tortoises have it good on San Cristobal Island now, it wasn’t always this way (it was actually quite tragic). When Darwin visited the islands in 1835, he noticed that these creatures were so large and had lots of meat on them; tens of thousands of tortoises were slaughtered and consumed by himself and others he knew.
Thankfully this isn’t still happening today!