Taking care of tortoises


Taking care of tortoises



The process of reproducing and rearing Galapagos giant tortoises in captivity was developed in the Charles Darwin Research Station since 1965 onwards and has been thoroughly documented ever since on different materials (paper-based, audiovisual, digital), all of them kept at both the CDF Library and the Archive.

As it happens with many other pieces of cultural or scientific heritage, the different elements giving account of the reproduction process have been fragmented and separated for conservation in different spaces (archive, library, museum) and (sub)collections; some of those elements may have been even discarded or not considered, as it usually happens with oral tradition, anecdotes, and the so-called "minor documents", such as memorabilia.

Searching, recovering, and linking them can create a narrative "line" that may bring readers quite close to the original history. That line, in turn, becomes one more thread of that rich fabric that is social memory.

The image accompanying this text, took by MacFarland in June 1970, and titled "Putting eggs into incubator", is a part of that line of tortoise-related documents and events, alongside many slides, photographs, and negatives, as well as a number of digital pictures. Audiovisual material, such as films and videos, accompanied by audio items in cassettes, also presents vital evidence of the scientific research on the famous reptiles — and its results. Also, tangible heritage, such as buildings or incubators, add further information, as memories and oral tradition do, too. Finally, reports providing basic, raw data on the advances and failures of the conservation process are abundant in the CDF Archive, and many of them are connected to the many articles, theses, and books regarding Galapagoan tortoises, kept in the shelves of the CDF Library.

Joining all these pieces is a process quite like the creation of a mosaic by adding tesserae. The outcome provides a rich image, which is usually much more than the addition of its components.

Aa.Vv. [Taking care of the giant tortoises]. [Slide + photograph + audiovisual material + textual material]. [N.d.] : Aa.Vv., [ca1970]. [N.d.] : [n.d.] : [n.d.]. DDC 508. Well preserved.

  Subject categories: Conservation | Herpetology | History of CDF | History of Galapagos | History of science | Natural history
  Keywords: Articles | Books | Photos | Recordings | Reports | Reptiles | Slides | Tortoises | Videos
  Time framework: 1970


Text & picture: (edgardo.civallero@fcdarwin.org.ec).
Publication date: 1 May 2022
Last update: 1 May 2022