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11 x 14

In 1535 Spanish explorers discovered islands off the coast of South America inhabited by giant tortoises. “Galápago”, the spanish word for tortoise, was used in naming these islands.

 These gentle and ancient giants were studied by Charles Darwin due to morphological and behavioural differences based on which island the tortoises inhabited. Today there are 10 remaining subspecies of Galapagos tortoises. 

In 2010 I was fortunate enough to have a behind the scenes tour of the new captive breeding facility of Galapagos tortoises at the San Diego zoo, housing one of the largest captive colonies in the world. I was no stranger to being up close to large tortoises, having worked with Aldabra tortoises, another species of giant tortoise, at the Toronto Zoo. Being surrounded by large numbers of this rare species, however, was really a treat. 

The individual I chose for this artwork had just had a nice misting with the hose and was busy drinking drops of water from the sand. The afternoon sun beaming off of its newly cleaned carapace, with its marked geometry, made for some lovely contrasting light and shadow.