‘Extinct’ Fernandina Island Tortoise Found After 113 Years

   02.22.19

This has certainly been the month for rediscoveries.. A tortoise – the Fernandina Island Tortoise to be exact – thought to be extinct for 113 years has been found on a very remote volcanic island in the Galapagos.

The find was made earlier this month during filming of Animal Planet’s “Extinct or Alive,” led by biologist Forest Galante.

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in 113 years, I am pleased to introduce to you the most rare animal on earth, the newly discovered, only female in history of Chelonoidis Phantasticus, the Fernandina Island Tortoise that we (myself, my team and Washington tapia and Jeffrey Malaga from Galapagos National Parks and Galapagos Conservancy) found a few days ago!!!! 🐢 “Forgotten Fern” as my team and I have affectionately named her has been safely collected and transported to the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, a national park facility in Isla Santa Cruz. She is currently in quarantine. 🐢 Fern is in good health but underweight, unsurprising considering the sparse vegetation in the area she lived in on the volcano. Having fern in this breeding facility will ensure her ongoing survival, a healthy diet and perhaps, if sperm retention has occurred, fertile eggs and offspring. 🐢 Having this animal in captivity will hopefully prompt new searches and ongoing funding for the location of a suitable mate for Fern with the ultimate goal of re-releasing many healthy animals back onto the island. 🐢 As a biologist and someone who has dedicated my life to the pursuit of animals believed extinct, this is by far my greatest scientific accomplishment and proudest moment. Much like Lonesome George was an icon of extinction, I believe Fern can become an icon of wildlife hope. 🐢 The entire expedition and find has been filmed and will be released as an episode of Extinct or Alive during season 2, in June on @animalplanet 💥 🐢 🎊 . Who wants to see the video of the find!? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #phantasticus #forgottenfern #chelonoidis #tortoise #turtle #galapagos #extinctoralive #animalplanet #extinction #biology #wildlife #animals #filmcrew #productionlife #bts #behindthescenes #crazy #adventureonly #liveauthentic #explore #wanderers #adventure #lifeofadventure #travel #traveling #traveler #traveltheworldy ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ 📷: @mark.romanov & @johnny5dubya

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“Having positively identified tortoise scat in the field, the team led by Galante successfully located an active bedding site before finding the animal nearby,” Animal Planet said in a statement. “The tortoise was found sheltering from the equatorial sun, buried deep under a pile of brush.”

The tortoise – dubbed “Forgotten Fern” by Galante and his team – was safely collected and transferred to the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, a national park facility in Isla Santa Cruz. She was given a good bill of health overall, but underweight.

“Having fern in this breeding facility will ensure her ongoing survival, a healthy diet and perhaps, if sperm retention has occurred, fertile eggs and offspring,” Galante wrote in a post on Instagram. “Having this animal in captivity will hopefully prompt new searches and ongoing funding for the location of a suitable mate for Fern with the ultimate goal of re-releasing many healthy animals back onto the island.”

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