The Faces of the Giant Tortoise Centers of Galapagos: Park Ranger Tribute, Part 2

December 4, 2014

In this second part of the tribute to the Galapagos National Park rangers who accompanied us during our first annual review of the Tortoise Centers of Galapagos, I would like to focus on those from Santa Cruz — including Fausto Llerena, Lonesome George’s long-time caretaker. Part 1 features the rangers from San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Floreana. 

Santa Cruz Tortoise Center 

NameFausto Llerena
Age: 75
From: Tungurahua Province, Ecuador
Joined the Park: 1971
Favorite Tasks: Working with the tortoises, and in the earlier years, searching for tortoise nesting zones and living areas.

Fausto moved from continental Ecuador to the Santa Cruz highlands with his family in 1955 at age 16. His father built a house and started a farm. Fausto worked as an assistant to a botanist as well as on other projects at the Charles Darwin Research Station in 1970 before joining the Park in 1971. Five years later he began working in the Land Iguana Breeding Center; in 1983 he was transferred to the Tortoise Center. By 1986 he was managing both the Land Iguana and Tortoise Centers for the Park, and he served as Lonesome George’s principal keeper for many years. Fausto participated in the Tortoise Workshop in 2012, providing invaluable knowledge of tortoises throughout the archipelago.

Fausto retired from the Park at the end of November after 43 years of service. We hope he will continue working with GC on occasion as a tortoise consultant. 

 

NameFreddy Villalva
Age: 35
From: Tungurahua Province, Ecuador
Joined the Park: 2003
Favorite Tasks: Working with the tortoises.

Freddy moved to Galapagos in 2003 with his wife, a native of the Islands. He began working in the Santa Cruz Tortoise Center on his first day with the Park. Occasionally, he also works in the field with penguins, cormorants, albatrosses and land iguanas. Freddy participated in the Tortoise Workshop in 2012, and we expect he will follow in Fausto’s footsteps as a dedicated leader in the Santa Cruz Tortoise Center.

 

NameMoises Villafuerte
Age: 49
From: Tungurahua Province, Ecuador
Joined the Park: 1991
Favorite Tasks: Protecting tortoise nesting zones in Santa Cruz from feral pigs.

Moises moved to Galapagos around 1980 following his two older brothers, both of whom worked at the Charles Darwin Research Station. He worked on a cattle farm before joining the Park in 1991. He spent seven years working on the pig eradication project on Santiago, and has been working at the Tortoise Center and in the field on Santa Cruz (tortoise nesting zones) for the past six years.

 

NameAndrea Loyola, GNP Veterinarian
Age: 29
From: El Cascajo, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
Joined the Park: 2014
Favorite Tasks: Working with a variety of animals.

Although born in Quito, Andrea’s family is from Galapagos. She grew up on their farm in El Cascajo, Santa Cruz. She recently completed her studies in veterinarian sciences at the Universidad Central in Quito and began working for the Park in 2014 as the Park’s veterinarian. Her responsibilities are divided between the Rapid Response Network and the Tortoise Centers.

 

NameWilson Cabrera
Age: 38
From: Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
Joined the Park: 1998
Favorite Tasks: Working with the animals.

Wilson was born in Puerto Ayora and has lived in Santa Cruz for most of his life. He began working as a volunteer with the Park in 1998; one month later he joined the staff to work on Project Isabela until it ended in 2006. He continued working on other goat eradication projects for the Park on other islands, including Floreana and San Cristóbal, and has been working with plants since 2012. He occasionally fills in at the Tortoise Centers on both Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal.

 

Read Part 1 in the series dedicated to the Galapagos National Park rangers, featuring individuals from San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Floreana.

 

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