Wild Baby Giant Tortoise
Aldabra Atoll and Fregate Island in Seychelles and the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador
It can be hard growing up without parents but it doesn’t seem to bother this 5-year-old baby giant tortoise. She’s been on her own as soon as she cracked through her egg and joined her siblings in the open air. She has the instincts to show her the way but there are a few things that haven't been hardwired into her. The people brought their own animals to her island long ago, cats and dogs but also cows. She has started to learn how to avoid the predators mostly but the cows are a big pain. They eat her food and she needs that if she is to make it into a grand old age!
These giants are a window into a pre-historic time. The biggest living tortoises by far, these species of reptiles give us an idea of the simply enormous ones that would have roamed our world. They now survive in two remote groups where they can live for a very long time, over 100 years. They roam around with their great shells which are attached to their ribs. These shells are not solid but made up of honeycomb-shaped air chambers.
Tortoises have a very hands-off approach to parenting. The female will lay her eggs (2-25 depending on the species) in a nest she has dug into the sand. She will cover it back up and head off. The hatchlings will need to dig themselves out of the hole when they are ready. The temperature of the sand can affect the gender of the hatchlings: warmer temperatures give more females and colder temperatures give more males.
There once many more species of giant tortoises but many became extinct soon after humans arrived and the surviving populations were badly affected. Giant tortoises do not need to eat or drink for a very long time so for early humans this made for effective meals, being able to take like tortoises across great distances and then eat them fresh. They were also used for their oil to light lamps. Now, with dedicated breeding programmes, the numbers of many of the remaining species of tortoises are increasing. They are still threatened by introduced species such as cats and dogs who attack the young tortoises and cattle who are competition for grazing.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.worldwildlife.org/