Since the discovery of the Galapagos Islands, giant tortoises
have been exploited by almost every group of people who have visited (whalers, pirates, and scientists), as well as the people who live there. Between 100,000 to 200,000 giant tortoises were removed and killed in two centuries. From hunting, to habitat alteration, to the current biggest threat - the introduction of animals now acting as predators and competitors, the giant tortoise population was almost wiped out on Isabela Island. The Giant Tortoise Breeding Center was started in 1990 in attempts to recuperate the giant tortoise population through its program of breeding, care, and reintroduction to the wild, as well as through education programs for tourists and local people. These reptiles, emblematic of the Galapagos, are imperative to the unique Galapagos ecosystem. The Breeding Center depends on volunteers to work with caretakers, experts, and educators to repopulate this species.
As the Galapagos Tortoise Center conservation volunteer, you will work with staff the Galapagos National Park at the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center on Isabela Island. You will work primarily outdoors in the shaded tortoise enclosures. This will include:
- Feeding and caring for the tortoises, as well as maintaining their enclosure.
- Assisting the zoo keepers.
- Working directly with the public to educate tourists about giant tortoises and to also inform them of the rules and regulations designed to keep the tortoises safe and the habitats intact.
Building New, and Improving Existing, Infrastructure: renovating
a classroom for program use, maintaining, and painting the center.
Providing Education: local schools participate in field
trips to the center, instilling stewardship for the environment in the nearly
600 K-12 children who attend school on the island; creating a junior park
ranger program that promotes scientific learning while promoting a sense of
ecological agency and care among young people.
- Basic to intermediate level of Spanish.
- A genuine passion for animal conservation.
- An ability to openly communicate rules and regulations to tourists as well as follow instructions.
- Ability to work independently as well as in a team.
- Flexible schedule that accounts for the day to day needs of working with a local institution.
- Physical ability to work outdoors with potentially high sun, element, and temperature exposure.
- All equipment is provided, but make sure to bring closed-toed shoes and clothes you can get dirty
**Wasps are attracted to the plants that you will prep and feed to the giant tortoises. Those with a severe wasp allergy should reconsider this project.
Accommodation is provided by one of our carefully selected host families or in our volunteer housing. In both types of housing, volunteers have their own room, a fan, bed, desk, dresser, and bathroom, as well as warm water and drinking water. In our volunteer housing, breakfast is not included, but you have access to our fully equipped kitchen facilities to cover your needs. Lunch and dinner is provided at your choice of various restaurants in town, which are usually open-air seating with local cuisine. You simply sign for your meal and we’ll pick up the bill at the end of the month.
Our host families have experience with outside culture and international living and provide an amazing immersion experience. All host family houses are nearby the IOI offices and the local schools in the beach town of Puerto Villamil. Homes are fairly simple, clean, and welcoming. You will have breakfast and dinner with your family. Lunch is at the above mentioned restaurants.
We at IOI pair you with your host family, and we are available at any time to help if any issues arrive with the restaurants, your host family, the volunteer site, if you get sick and need to visit the doctor, etc.
The program fee is necessary to cover your cost of living and logistics. Our overhead is covered by other means so 100% of any funds that exceed your direct cost will go towards the project you participated in.
To book you need to pay a Reservation Deposit.
That deposit WILL BE DEDUCTED from your program fee.
Cost includes food, full room and board, permits, Transient visa, local coordination and training at respective facility, local transport, full access to our facilities, etc.—everything minus personal expenses, travel insurance, and your airfare to Galápagos.