Raising Tortoises

To rebuild tortoise populations in the wild, some are first raised in captivity. Here’s how it works:


In the wild, mother tortoises lay their eggs in holes. They cover them with sand. When scientists find the buried eggs, they bring them to a rearing center.


Each egg is labeled, weighed, and registered. They are kept in boxes. They take 120 days to hatch.


A hatchling breaks free from its egg. It feeds on its yolk sac for 30 more days.


For two years, young tortoises are kept in pens. These protect them from predators. They learn to find their own food.


When they are five years old, they are old enough to look after themselves. Then they are released to the wild.

Keeping the Peace

Another conservation goal is to prevent conflicts between humans and tortoises. Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, and Isabela have already seen conflicts.

On Santa Cruz, tortoises have eaten plastics. Others have been hit by cars. One was attacked by stray dogs. The people of the Galápagos know and value the treasure they have in the giant tortoises. They are trying many ways to protect them.

A baby tortoise crawls across a leaf.


One of National Geographic’s goals is to help protect Earth’s wild places. How did the stories make you feel about the Galápagos Islands? Do you think it is important to protect them?