- Why is it important to protect Galápagos tortoises?
- Where are the Galápagos Islands?
- Who was Charles Darwin? What work made him famous?
- What is a carapace? What is a saddleback shell?
- Why have scientists set up tortoise-breeding facilities in the Galápagos
- Why do scientists paint numbers on the backs of baby tortoises at breeding
facilities in the Galápagos Islands?
- What type of environments do baby tortoises live in at the breeding
facilities? When do researchers release the young tortoises into the wild?
- Describe a “semiprotected” environment.
- Predators often eat baby tortoises in the wild. Why do scientists want to
- What is a conservationist? How do conservationists differ from other types
of scientists? (For help, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_movement).
- Why might it be difficult to determine exactly how long a tortoise can live
in the wild?
- Darwin observed that each island in the Galápagos is home to a unique set of
animals. The same is true on other islands around the world. What might explain
this phenomenon? (Learn more about “island biogeography” at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_biogeography).
- How do adult tortoises protect themselves from predators?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of raising a wild animal in
captivity rather than letting it grow up in the wild?
Besides tortoises, what other rare animals live in the Galápagos Islands? What makes this region so rich with life? (For lots of information and extra lesson plans, see www.galapagos.org/schools.html).
- After researching the Galápagos Islands, write a short story from the
perspective of a 200-year-old Galápagos tortoise. Remember that a tortoise that
old could have met both Charles Darwin in 1835 and a kid like you today! What
kinds of changes in the environment might the tortoise have witnessed during its
lifetime? What types of visitors might the animal have encountered over the
- Charles Darwin was both a scientist and a writer. Why is it important that
scientists be good writers? Do you know any scientists today who write books?
Who are they?
A giant tortoise can weigh up to 500 pounds. How much do you weigh in comparison, in terms of fractions and percentages? (For example, if you weighed 250 pounds, you would weigh 1/2 or 50 percent as much as a 500-pound tortoise). If you have a pet, how much does it weigh in comparison to a giant tortoise?