Galapagos and Beyond: September Roundup

September 26, 2014

Lonesome George made headlines in September with the opening of the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit in New York. We announced the winners of our 2014 photo contest earlier in the month, which will be featured in the 2015 GC calendar. A fantastic online resource for teachers and students called Discovering Galapagos launched as well…read about these and more in our September roundup!


A Night at the Museum: Lonesome George Exhibit Unveiled

Lonesome GeorgeOn September 18, 2014, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Chief Conservation Scientist Dr. Eleanor Sterling to launch the opening of the long-awaited exhibit for Lonesome George — the last known tortoise from Pinta Island who died in June 2012. A sold-out audience of 300 listened attentively to the remarks of Galapagos National Park Director Dr. Arturo Izurieta, GC President Johannah Barry, GC Science Advisor Dr. Linda Cayot, and Dr. James Gibbs of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, all of whom knew Lonesome George for years prior to his death.

Lonesome George exhibit

Following the discussion, attendees got a sneak peek of Lonesome George — whose body was preserved by expert taxidermists — prior to the official exhibit opening the following day. It was an emotional night for those who knew Lonesome George in life and because of what his death represented: the role of humankind in species loss, and our responsibility to preserve and protect the fragile world around us. Lonesome George will be on exhibit in New York until January 4, 2015 before being returned to Ecuador. Watch a video from AMNH documenting the process of creating the exhibit, and read more on the story of Lonesome George.

Photos © JargaPix Photography


2014 GC Photo Contest Winners Announced

Yellow-crowned night heron by John RollinsIn case you missed it, we revealed the 12 winning photographs from this year’s contest after much deliberation (and sifting through more than 1,200 submissions!) for our 2015 calendar. In addition to the 12 winning photos, which can be viewed in our online Gallery, 31 additional photos were selected as “honorable mentions” to appear as small detail photographs within the calendar and on the back cover. The overall winning photo of a yellow-crowned night heron (who clearly has not had his morning coffee), pictured here, was taken by John Rollins of Kansas City, Missouri. We thank everyone who entered the contest this year! The 2015 calendar is currently available for pre-order.


Featured Online Resource: Discovering Galapagos

Discovering Galapagos websiteGalapagos Conservation Trust, our colleagues in the United Kingdom, launched its new online educational resource Discovering Galapagos in September in collaboration with The Book Bus. Described as a “curriculum-linked educational resource which focuses on the unique Galapagos Islands as a lesson for the world,” the project consists of two comprehensive websites — one for a UK audience, the other for Ecuadorians — that share a bilingual blog. Complete with comprehensive Galapagos facts and interactive games for students, Discovering Galapagos also has a “Teacher Zone” with downloadable lesson plans appropriate for students ages 7-14. Incorporating concepts of conservation and sustainability into curricula for young Galapaguenos is part of creating a sustainable society in Galapagos, but beyond education, this is also a great resource for travelers to the Islands (and their kids!). Visit Discovering Galapagos to learn more.


Radio Interview on the Mangrove Finch Project

Cunninghame inspecting a finch nestFrancesca Cunninghame, Field Manager for the Mangrove finch project at the Charles Darwin Foundation, was recently interviewed by Radio New Zealand about her efforts to increase the population and range of Mangrove finches in Galapagos. Mangrove finches, a species of Darwin’s finches that inspired Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory, are critically endangered — less than 100 remain. Cunninghame and her team have implemented a “head-starting” program to combat the devastating chick mortality — up to 95% — experienced by these (and other) Galapagos land birds due to the parasitic fly Philornis downsi. In the interview, Cunninghame recounts how the team collected Mangrove finch eggs in the wild and hand-reared the chicks, which led to a successful release of 15 birds in the spring of 2014. Listen now.


Tortoise-Inspired Poetry

On Friday, September 26, The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor featured a beautiful poem by Margaret Atwood titled Elegy for the Giant Tortoises. Originally published in 1976, you can read the poem online or listen to a clip from the broadcast. Enjoy…and then read about efforts to restore tortoise populations across the Islands through the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative

Tortoise profile


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