Help us raise £5,000 to bring Tessa the Galapagos giant tortoise to life, so she can inspire local children on the Islands.

“Tessa must leave for the highlands in search of food. She hopes for a safe journey along the old trail she uses every year.”

Join our adventurer, Tessa the Galapagos giant tortoise, on her migration to and from the highlands of Santa Cruz island in Galapagos, as she faces perils such as busy roads and non-native species. The iconic Galapagos giant tortoises are a vital part of the Islands. They spread seeds and help to shape the landscape, allowing other species to thrive. However, they are under threat from habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species such as pigs which eat their eggs.

In order to survive, they need the help of the local communities. Sadly, many Galapaguenian children don’t have the opportunity to see these giants in the wild, as both physical and financial limitations reduce their opportunities to visit the Galapagos National Park where the majority of the tortoises are found. We want to inspire them, and stories are such a great way of doing that.

To bring tortoise conservation to the classroom and home, Galapagos Conservation Trust has partnered with scientists from the Galapagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme to write this new storybook: Tessa the Giant Tortoise.

Support our crowdfunder today to bring Tessa to life for local children.

Meet Tessa

Tessa is an 80 year old female Galapagos giant tortoise who lives on Santa Cruz island, the most populated island in the Galapagos Archipelago. Like all Galapagos giant tortoises, she migrates every year to find food and, like all mature females, to lay her eggs.

Aimed at younger aged primary school children (5-8 years old), the book will inspire children in Galapagos to connect with nature and the unique animals they share the Islands with, including the Galapagos giant tortoise. Through the eyes of Tessa, children will learn and reflect on the positive relationship they can have with nature through everyday environmentally friendly actions.

Cover of Tessa the Giant Tortoise storybook © Galapagos Conservation Trust

During her migration, Tessa encounters issues like farm fences that block her way, litter which she might mistake for food, and pigs which want to eat her eggs. However, she also sees the people that are working to help giant tortoises like her, including scientists, farmers, Galapagos National Park rangers and local volunteers. Thanks to these people, she reaches the end of her migration safely and lays her eggs. The baby tortoises that hatch at the end of the book are a symbol of hope for the future.

Throughout the book, children will also learn about other wildlife found in Galapagos, both native and introduced, as our tortoise makes her journey. This book will be bi-lingual with an English version starting from the front and an Ecuadorian-Spanish version starting at the back which will also help children in Galapagos learn English, a skill that is valued on the Islands. A glossary, tortoise facts and an information page will be included alongside a suite of educational resources available to download for free.

Help us raise £5,000 to bring Tessa the Galapagos giant tortoise to life, so she can inspire local children on the Islands.

Why are we doing this?

It is vital that children become passionate about their local wildlife, as they will be its custodians for the future. In Galapagos, many children are not easily able to get out into the National Park and see much of the wildlife that tourists flock there to enjoy, so it is vital that we find ways to connect children to nature. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated this situation, with most children having been out of formal education for well over a year. As a result, teachers are unable to teach children about the importance of nature and ensure they can carry out the smooth delivery of the National Curriculum. Continued outreach is vital to support children with their learning and understanding of their home island, which they share with some of the most unique animals on Earth

In 2019, we launched our first storybook, Marti the Hammerhead Shark: A Galapagos Journey. Aimed at 7–11-year-olds and available in English and Ecuadorian-Spanish, the book has been given to over 1,000 children in Galapagos, and nearly 2,000 people have attended outreach activities across the Islands to date. This is a fantastic success, and our Connecting with Nature outreach programme has been doing incredible work, especially throughout the pandemic when outreach and educational programmes have been a challenge.

Building upon the success we had with Marti the Hammerhead Shark, we want Tessa the Giant Tortoise to be more interactive and engaging for younger audiences, whilst ensuring it allows teachers to carry out lessons that are in line with the National Curriculum on the Islands. 

Galapagos children learning about giant tortoises at school © Galapagos Conservation Trust

Key to this book is our Education Consultant, and the book’s author, Sarah Langford, who has a degree in ecology. Alongside working for GCT, she is a primary school teacher which enables her to try out her ideas directly in the classroom. She is overseeing the development of a set of interactive activities including quizzes, games, colouring in sheets, fact files and activities – all of which will support learning while engaging and motivating children to learn about important conservation issues and how their actions can make a difference.

The book will also work alongside tortoise-focussed educational materials recently developed for older primary aged school children. GCT will ensure that this book is delivered to the community on the Islands, which will be achieved through library events, community workshops and local children’s clubs. In addition, we will deliver activities in schools where possible and COVID-19 restrictions allow.

Will you help us to make the storybook project a success?

Proceeds from this campaign will go towards an initial print run of 1,000 copies of the storybook in Ecuador. This will help cover the cost of printing, design and postage, as well as other set up costs. In addition, the funds will cover a launch event for the book on Santa Cruz island.

If we exceed the campaign target of £5,000, the campaign will be able to cover ongoing tortoise outreach activities on the Islands, by our Outreach Coordinator, Anne Guézou. 

Please support our crowdfunder today to bring Tessa to life for local children. To thank you for donations, we have a variety of rewards, including limited edition prints.

Other ways you can support us

If you are interested supporting this project, but aren’t able to make a donation, there are other ways you can support the support work of GCT:

Thank you for your support!