Nearly 200 Hatchling Galapagos Tortoises Seized At Galapagos Island Airport

185 tortoises were wrapped in plastic. 10 died.
Galapagos Tortoise
This hatchling tortoise survived a smuggling attempt of 185 tortoises.

The Galapagos tortoise is captive bred in many countries around the world to ensure the survival of these species, yet some smugglers tried to smuggle 185 baby tortoises out of the Galapagos Islands. The babies, wrapped in plastic wrap ostensibly to immobilize them, were found during a routine inspection at the Aeropuerto Ecológico Galápagos on Isla Baltra.

The reptiles were destined for the port city of Guayaquil when they were discovered by operators of an x-ray machine at the airport who noticed that something was amiss with the suitcase, the contents of which was declared as souvenirs. Of the 185 tortoises that were found, 10 had died. Nobody has been arrested for this crime.

Marcelo Mata, Ecuador’s environnent minister, said the baby tortoises, which were about three months old, were taken from the wild and not from the breeding centers at the Galápagos National Park. “I categorically reject these crimes against wildlife and the natural heritage of Ecuadorians,” Mata tweeted.

The species of the hatchlings have not yet been identified. Twelve Galapagos tortoise species are known to persist today, and five are found on separate islands in the chain. Another five species are found on Isabela Island.


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Galapagos tortoises are the largest tortoise in the world and can live more than 120 years. They are native to the Galapagos Islands but captive breeding efforts have enabled them to be distributed to various zoos around the world.

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