Giant Galapagos Tortoise

NAME
Mme. du Micocoulier

TITLE
Love The Giant Galapagos Tortoise

GENDER
Female

AGE
75

FOUND
Galápagos Islands in Ecuador

CONSERVATION STATUS
Endangered

This old lady has lived to the ripe age of 75 and is still going strong. Moving slowly around her island she lives a peaceful life of grazing. Her species was nearly wiped out by humans but she feels lucky that they realised their mistake in time. She is still endangered but she has a much better chance at life now that conservation is a priority. She wishes those pesky cows wouldn’t eat so much of her food though.

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 were 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 to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.

To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/

SPONSORED BY
Silvia & Tobias Koenig

SOURCES