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Ancient Tortoise!

Presumed to be lost for 112 years, the Galápagos Conservancy and the Galápagos National Park Directorate will urgently launch expeditions to find a mate for the female Chelonoidis phantasticus and save the species.

The discovery of the tortoise, called “Fern” was raised in 2019, while Yale University began conducting genetic analysis to determine the creature’s exact species. Researchers had strong suspicions that it was a Fernandina, so launched expeditions on the island to look for more members of her species.

Soon afterward, park rangers reported sighting scat and tracks on the volcanic slopes, suggesting there could be more turtles around. If found, any remaining individuals will immediately be transported to the breeding center on Santa Cruz Island, where several species of the giant tortoises have been successfully bred back to stable population levels.

“One of the greatest mysteries in Galápagos has been the Fernandina Island Giant Tortoise. Rediscovering this lost species may have occurred just in the nick of time to save it. We now urgently need to complete the search of the island to find other tortoises,” said Dr. James Gibbs, Vice President of Science and Conservation for the Galápagos Conservancy and a tortoise expert at the State University of New York.

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