Park Service to close direct access to tortoise pens

The Galapagos National Park Service has decided to close direct access to the giant tortoise pens in the tortoise breeding centre near the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island this week.   Of the six pens, two had been open to public "walk throughs" given visitors a chance to see the tortoises that much closer.

The decision was based on the fact that, over the past while, the park had been receiving a growing number of reports of unacceptable behaviour on the part of some naturalist guides who were not applying the regulations for visiting the pens.   People were reported to be walking on the tortoise's feeding platforms, touching the tortoises and leaving garbage behind.

Visitors will still be able to take the very nice boardwalk which takes them alongside the pens, from which they will still be able to get good views of the tortoises.  If the park has any reason to believe that guides will "pull up their socks" and ensure that regulations are applied, it said it may re-open the pens to visitors again.

The pens receive about 7,800 visitors a month and currently include 925 juvenile and 70 adult tortoises.

Tortoise pens locked up Picture courtesy Galapagos National Park Service