SALT LAKE CITY — The Fernandina Giant Tortoise is back.
A giant tortoise species believed be extinct for more than 100 years was recently been discovered on the Galapagos island of Fernandina, according to CNN.
- The tortoise was found Sunday during an expedition at the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, Ecuador's government said in a statement.
- However, Washington Tapia, the director of the restoration group, said researchers will carry out a genetic study to "reconfirm" the tortoise species is back from the dead.
- In fact, researchers said there were tracks and the scent of other tortoises in the location, which could mean there's more of that species hanging around the island.
An expedition from Animal Planet, which was led by "Extinct or Alive" host Forrest Galante, led to the discovery of the tortoise, according to Fox News. The group rediscovered the animal on Feb. 17, more than 100 years after it was believed to have gone extinct.
- "Having positively identified tortoise scat in the field, the team led by Galante successfully located an active bedding site before finding the animal nearby," said Animal Planet in a statement, according to Fox News. "The tortoise was found sheltering from the equatorial sun, buried deep under a pile of brush."
Interesting note: The discovery marks the first time scientists have seen a female member of the species. The only other discovery in 1906 was of a deceased male.
- "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, in the statement, according to Fox News. "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."
The animal has been brought to a breeding center in Isla Santa Cruz in the Galapagos where she will be treated and cared for.
- "This facility will ensure her ongoing survival, a healthy diet and perhaps, if sperm retention has occurred, fertile eggs and offspring,” explained Animal Planet, in its statement. "The hope is that her discovery will prompt new searches and ongoing funding for the location of a suitable mate with the ultimate goal of re-releasing many healthy animals back onto the island."