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In January 2020, the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative mounted the most ambitious giant tortoise expedition to date. The mission: to find descendants of the long-extinct Floreana and Pinta tortoises, and breed them to help restore these lost bloodlines to their original Galápagos islands. Given the long lifespans of the reptiles in question, only our kids and grandkids will be there to witness the results.

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Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) resting, Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) resting, Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Sierra Negra Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra guentheri) hatchling with egg, held in human hand. Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Centre, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Sierra Negra Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra guentheri) hatchling with egg, held in human hand. Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Centre, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) in habitat. Hybrids of mixed parentage with different shell shapes are scattered far and wide on the rugged west slope of Wolf Volcano. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Is...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) in habitat. Hybrids of mixed parentage with different shell shapes are scattered far and wide on the rugged west slope of Wolf Volcano. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Is...
Illustration of 'Albemarle Island' (now Isabela) hand coloured engraving by Huyot and Bepard facing page 520 in 'All Around the World' published in 1872 by William Collins & Son. Shows the large calde...  -  Paul D Stewart
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Paul D Stewart / Illustration of 'Albemarle Island' (now Isabela) hand coloured engraving by Huyot and Bepard facing page 520 in 'All Around the World' published in 1872 by William Collins & Son. Shows the large calde...
Embalmed remains of the last Pinta saddleback tortoise (Geochelone abingdonensis) named 'Lonesome George'. With backdrop photo of Pinta Island donated to the public exhibit by Tui De Roy, Fuas...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Embalmed remains of the last Pinta saddleback tortoise (Geochelone abingdonensis) named 'Lonesome George'. With backdrop photo of Pinta Island donated to the public exhibit by Tui De Roy, Fuas...
Pinta saddleback tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonensis) 'Lonsesome George', with his keeper. The last of his species, who died in 2012. Tortoise Breeding Centre, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island,...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinta saddleback tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonensis) 'Lonsesome George', with his keeper. The last of his species, who died in 2012. Tortoise Breeding Centre, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island,...
Galapagos National Park team taking blood samples from Wolf Volcano giant tortoise (Geochelone becki). This is used for DNA analysis to trace descendants of extinct Pinta and Floreana species to begin...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Galapagos National Park team taking blood samples from Wolf Volcano giant tortoise (Geochelone becki). This is used for DNA analysis to trace descendants of extinct Pinta and Floreana species to begin...
Wolf Volcano giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra becki) being marked with paint by Galapagos National Park workers, after having blood taken for DNA analysis, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf Volcano giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra becki) being marked with paint by Galapagos National Park workers, after having blood taken for DNA analysis, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) two males fight briefly over mating rights. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) two males fight briefly over mating rights. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Fernandina giant tortoise (Chelonoidis fantasticus). Discovered on Fernandina Island in February 2019, where the species was believed extinct, this small female awaits genetic testing to confirm her l...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Fernandina giant tortoise (Chelonoidis fantasticus). Discovered on Fernandina Island in February 2019, where the species was believed extinct, this small female awaits genetic testing to confirm her l...
Floreana giant tortoise hybrid descendant (Chelonoidis elephantopus). This individual is a descendant of the extinct Floreana giant tortoise, but hybridised with other species. Fausto Llerena Giant Tr...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Floreana giant tortoise hybrid descendant (Chelonoidis elephantopus). This individual is a descendant of the extinct Floreana giant tortoise, but hybridised with other species. Fausto Llerena Giant Tr...
Floreana giant tortoise (Chelonoidis elephantopus) hybrid descendant male and female hybrid at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre for the purpose of repopulating Floreana Island. This species...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Floreana giant tortoise (Chelonoidis elephantopus) hybrid descendant male and female hybrid at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre for the purpose of repopulating Floreana Island. This species...
Floreana giant tortoise hybrid descendant (Chelonoidis elephantopus). This individual is a descendant of the extinct Floreana giant tortoise, but hybridised with other species. Fausto Llerena Giant Tr...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Floreana giant tortoise hybrid descendant (Chelonoidis elephantopus). This individual is a descendant of the extinct Floreana giant tortoise, but hybridised with other species. Fausto Llerena Giant Tr...
Steep, broken lava covered in dense, thorny vegetation on the western slope of Wolf Volcano, where hybrid descendants of Pinta and Floreana tortoises are mixed within the Wolf tortoise population. Wol...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Steep, broken lava covered in dense, thorny vegetation on the western slope of Wolf Volcano, where hybrid descendants of Pinta and Floreana tortoises are mixed within the Wolf tortoise population. Wol...
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) aggressive displays, settled by he who can reach highest. This often giving the advantage to the more saddlebacked shaped individual, even if overall smaller. W...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) aggressive displays, settled by he who can reach highest. This often giving the advantage to the more saddlebacked shaped individual, even if overall smaller. W...
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) portrait. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) portrait. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Helicopter support, brought by ship from mainland Ecuador, was vital to the success of the Wolf expedition Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Helicopter support, brought by ship from mainland Ecuador, was vital to the success of the Wolf expedition Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Galapagos tortoise searching teams aboard the Galapagos National Park patrol launch boat 'Sierra Negra', Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Galapagos tortoise searching teams aboard the Galapagos National Park patrol launch boat 'Sierra Negra', Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Washington (Wacho) Tapia, director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative and leader of the Wolf expedition Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Washington (Wacho) Tapia, director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative and leader of the Wolf expedition Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Rugged shores of Banks Bay, where whalers two centuries ago inadvertently let some Florenana and Pinta tortoises escape, which later bred with the local species. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapago...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Rugged shores of Banks Bay, where whalers two centuries ago inadvertently let some Florenana and Pinta tortoises escape, which later bred with the local species. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapago...
Pinta giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni) hybrid cross with Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki). Found in January 2020, and around 15 years old, she will become the nucleus of a new captive bre...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinta giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni) hybrid cross with Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki). Found in January 2020, and around 15 years old, she will become the nucleus of a new captive bre...
Park wardens recording the size and sex of each tortoise they encounter, and reading the tiny electronic tags implanted under the skin of their hind leg to check against a list of genetically desirabl...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Park wardens recording the size and sex of each tortoise they encounter, and reading the tiny electronic tags implanted under the skin of their hind leg to check against a list of genetically desirabl...
Floreana hybrid giant toretoises are helicoptered in from Wolf Volcano to the Fausto Llerena breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Floreana hybrid giant toretoises are helicoptered in from Wolf Volcano to the Fausto Llerena breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Floreana hybrid giant toretoises are helicoptered in from Wolf Volcano to the Fausto Llerena breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Floreana hybrid giant toretoises are helicoptered in from Wolf Volcano to the Fausto Llerena breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Floreana hybrid giant toretoises are helicoptered in from Wolf Volcano to the Fausto Llerena breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Floreana hybrid giant toretoises are helicoptered in from Wolf Volcano to the Fausto Llerena breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki). Hybrids of mixed parentage with different shell shapes are scattered far and wide on the rugged west slope of Wolf Volcano. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galap...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki). Hybrids of mixed parentage with different shell shapes are scattered far and wide on the rugged west slope of Wolf Volcano. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galap...
Wolf-Volcano giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra becki) portrait with ground finch (Geospiza sp. ) sitting on foot, Isabela Island, Galapagos. Did you know? Galapagos tortoises have a mutualistic relati...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf-Volcano giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra becki) portrait with ground finch (Geospiza sp. ) sitting on foot, Isabela Island, Galapagos. Did you know? Galapagos tortoises have a mutualistic relati...
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) group drinking from small puddles formed by fine drizzle. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) group drinking from small puddles formed by fine drizzle. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) group drinking from small puddles formed by fine drizzle. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) group drinking from small puddles formed by fine drizzle. Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) pair mating, Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Wolf giant tortoise (Chelonoidis becki) pair mating, Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis duncanensis), saddleback type typical of arid island, their long necks and raised shell allowing them to browse on cacti. Captive-raised as hatchlings to protect the...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis duncanensis), saddleback type typical of arid island, their long necks and raised shell allowing them to browse on cacti. Captive-raised as hatchlings to protect the...
Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis duncanensis), saddleback type typical of arid island, their long necks and raised shell allowing them to browse on cacti. Captive-raised as hatchlings to protect the...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis duncanensis), saddleback type typical of arid island, their long necks and raised shell allowing them to browse on cacti. Captive-raised as hatchlings to protect the...
Pinzon Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra ephippium) pair fighting, Pinzon Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra ephippium) pair fighting, Pinzon Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis duncanensis), two males facing off. Captive-raised as hatchlings to protect them from introduced black rats, adults have started breeding naturally again since rats...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis duncanensis), two males facing off. Captive-raised as hatchlings to protect them from introduced black rats, adults have started breeding naturally again since rats...
Pinzon Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra ephippium) group being transported from breeding center back to place of origin, Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra ephippium) group being transported from breeding center back to place of origin, Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis ephipium) moved by helicopter for breeding program, Galapagos National Park Headquarters, Santa Cruz Island., Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon giant tortoise (Chelonoidis ephipium) moved by helicopter for breeding program, Galapagos National Park Headquarters, Santa Cruz Island., Galapagos.
Pinzon racer snake (Pseudoalsophis slevini), Pinzon Island, Galapagos, Ecuador  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon racer snake (Pseudoalsophis slevini), Pinzon Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
Galapagos vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus nanus) male perched on twig, Pinzon Island, Galapagos. Endemic species.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Galapagos vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus nanus) male perched on twig, Pinzon Island, Galapagos. Endemic species.
Pinzon land snail (Naesiotus pinzonensis) two snails on ground surrounded by ants. Pinzon Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Pinzon land snail (Naesiotus pinzonensis) two snails on ground surrounded by ants. Pinzon Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis). 'Diego' feeding on cactus, one of the three surviving adult males. This male was returned from the San Diego Zoo in 1977 for breeding purpo...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis). 'Diego' feeding on cactus, one of the three surviving adult males. This male was returned from the San Diego Zoo in 1977 for breeding purpo...
Conservationist making notes,with tray of Galapagos tortoise eggs. Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre run by the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Conservationist making notes,with tray of Galapagos tortoise eggs. Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre run by the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis) laying eggs in 2015 at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. One of 13 remaining old females taken into captivi...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis) laying eggs in 2015 at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. One of 13 remaining old females taken into captivi...
Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis), captive at Tortoise Breeding Centre, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis), captive at Tortoise Breeding Centre, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis) hatchlings emerging from eggs laid at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Espanola saddleback tortoise (Geochelone hoodensis) hatchlings emerging from eggs laid at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Epanola saddelback tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis), with Galapagos mockingbird (Mimus parvulus) perched on carapace, Espnola Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Epanola saddelback tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis), with Galapagos mockingbird (Mimus parvulus) perched on carapace, Espnola Island, Galapagos.
Espanola saddelback tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis) pair mating, Espanola Island, Galapagos.  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Espanola saddelback tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis) pair mating, Espanola Island, Galapagos.
Alcedo giant tortoise (Chelonoidis vandenburghi), Alcedo Volcano, Isabela Island. This is where the largest extant population exists, acting as ecosystem engineers by maintaining open meadows and digg...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / Alcedo giant tortoise (Chelonoidis vandenburghi), Alcedo Volcano, Isabela Island. This is where the largest extant population exists, acting as ecosystem engineers by maintaining open meadows and digg...
'Lonesome Goergette', a distant relative of the late Lonesome George is gently lowered by Wacho Tyapia (director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Intiative) into her new enclosure at the Faus...  -  Tui De Roy
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Tui De Roy / 'Lonesome Goergette', a distant relative of the late Lonesome George is gently lowered by Wacho Tyapia (director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Intiative) into her new enclosure at the Faus...
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