This month, Loro Parque has celebrated the hatching of six new giant Galapagos tortoises, marking an extraordinary milestone for the species’ survival. With only 15,000 of these magnificent creatures left in the wild, their population is so small that it could easily fit into the Heliodoro Rodríguez López football stadium in the capital of Tenerife.
The conservation of these impressive turtles presents unique challenges, primarily related to their slow reproductive cycle. These tortoises take up to 25 years to reach maturity, and it’s worth noting that Tom, who is over 50 years old, has recently become a father for the first time.
In fact, the successful breeding of these tortoises is a rare achievement, with only two accredited zoological institutions in all of Europe having achieved such a feat. As a result, each newborn tortoise holds immense value for the preservation of their species.
THE JOURNEY OF BEING BORN A TURTLE
The journey of a Galapagos tortoise begins even before hatching, as the eggs, carefully buried by the females under the sand, must encounter ideal humidity and temperature conditions to survive nearly four months before hatching. Once hatched, the young tortoises embark on their adventure of survival.
One of the key mysteries now is determining the gender of each hatchling, as there are no external differences in appearance to distinguish between males and females. This is crucial, given that 99% of these turtles are born female. Overcoming this hurdle is particularly important, as the sex of the tortoises depends on the temperature conditions during egg development, with warmer nests tending to produce more females.
OFFSPRING OF TOM, TOMASA AND RONALDIÑA AT LORO PARQUE
The proud parents of the six newborns are Tom, a long-time resident of the park for fifty years, along with Tomasa and Ronaldiña, who arrived at Loro Parque from Zurich Zoo, the sole European zoo to successfully reproduce this species. Their arrival to the park initiated the breeding program, with the creation of a habitat where they could thrive and receive the best care.
The result has been a significant achievement: Loro Parque has successfully bred these tortoises and hatched their eggs in a natural environment, contributing to the preservation of this remarkable species.