Tortoise thought extinct is found alive during Animal Planet series, ‘Extinct or Alive’

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2/27/2019 – The Fernandina Tortoise, presumed extinct since 1906, has been rediscovered on a remote volcanic island in the Galapagos during an Animal Planet funded expedition for the series

Extinct or Alive Host and leading biologist, Forrest Galante always believed the Fernandina Tortoise may still exist and on February 17th 2019, after two days of surveying, his team, including a Galapagos National Park Ranger (Jeffery Malaga) and the Director of the Galapagos Conservancy (Washington Tapia), crossed a three-mile stretch of hardened lava flow to arrive at an area identified the previous day as potential habitat that could support a population of Fernandina tortoise.

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

A huge celebration ensued as all parties involved were able to positively identify the animal in question as an older female C.Phantasticus based on shell morphology and facial characteristics. A team of international turtle biologists at the Turtle Conservancy studied photos and video of the tortoise and confirmed it is likely to be  Chelonoidis phantasticus “Since only one other specimen of this species has ever been found (a deceased male collected in 1906), we have never seen a female of the species,” said Anders Rhodin of the Turtle Conservancy and IUCN specialist group.

“The photos from the team clearly show a moderately saddle-backed, old female about half to two-thirds the size of the known male. Pending genetic confirmation, this is almost undoubtedly the lost Fernandina Giant Tortoise.”

In celebration of this historic discovery, the Turtle Conservancy and Global Wildlife Conservation are pledging a $100,000 match to further conservation efforts of the Fernandina Giant Tortoise.

To have your donation matched, go to

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