CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Tuesday October 2, 2012
Plump Pepe Put into Park Pen
After 60 years of (literally) religious care, Pepe, most likely the plumpest Galapagos tortoise alive, is being moved from the backyard of the local church in San Cristobal island (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno) to a more natural environment in the Galapagos National Park Service's tortoise pen.
CNH Tours first met Pepe in 1998 and has visited him a few times since. He was kept in a large enough enclosure with a big tree and a pond. But given his condition, we didn't think he was too interested in stretching his legs too much! As a local "off the beaten path" attraction, Pepe was often visited by families, children and the occasional tourist who somehow found out about him. For a very modest fee, the local pastor and his staff would let you into Pepe's enclosure, giving you a few bananas to feed him.
Having grown accustomed to being fed bananas by visitors, Pepe always greeted people by extending his neck as far as possible, and by opening in mouth as widely as possible, giving the casual observer the best opportunity ever to inspect the anatomy of the soft tissues inside a live Galapagos tortoise's mouth. However, he also started "running" towards visitors that way - as much as a tortoise can run that is. So, inside his pen, holding a banana, you had to be on your guard. You couldn't simply just move ahead of him to get out of his reach, and then get distracted, because before you knew it - Pepe would be upon you! It gives credence to the "Tortoise and the Hare" fable indeed!
Over the years, with this kind of diet (remember, in the wild, they eat grass or cactus leaves…), Pepe developed a double, even a triple chin! As much as the late George may have been lonesome, Pepe can be considered happy - Happy Pepe! We'll see how he likes his new "natural" home at the Park offices, and what kind of diet he'll have to get used to!
CNH Tours recommends you take the time to visit Happy Pepe if you are in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Just keep a step ahead of him!