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Tessa the Giant Tortoise
03/03/2022 Education and outreach

Introducing our new storybook: Tessa the Giant Tortoise

Following on from the huge success of our first storybook, Marti the Hammerhead Shark: A Galapagos Journey, we're delighted to share with you our new storybook project: Tessa the Giant Tortoise.

Photograph of Simon McPherson

Simon McPherson

Volunteer at Galapagos Conservation Trust

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.”

Support our crowdfunder here.

Why is the Tessa the Giant Tortoise storybook project important?

The incredible diversity of wildlife found in Galapagos is what makes this volcanic Archipelago so very special. The Islands are situated at the meeting point of several important oceanic currents, giving them a truly unique array of habitats and an eclectic mix of wildlife. The most famous resident of the Galapagos Islands is the Galapagos giant tortoise. In fact, the very word ‘Galapagos’ derives from an old Spanish word for tortoises!

Many children in Galapagos, especially those who live in urban areas, don’t get the opportunity to see Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild, despite them being one of the most iconic species on the Islands. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted teaching, meaning teachers have been unable share the importance of connecting with nature with their classes. Continued outreach is vital to support children with their learning and understanding of their home, which they share some of the most unique animals on Earth.

Galapagos giant tortoise
Galapagos giant tortoise © Kathleen Farley

To help support education in the Galapagos Islands and the Archipelago’s spectacular diversity of wildlife, in 2019 we developed a storybook, Marti the Hammerhead Shark, to offer a fun, engaging and informative way for children to gain awareness of the issues facing the marine life of the Islands. This proved to be a success: we printed over 1,000 books for children throughout the Islands, which proved popular with both children and their families. Furthermore, our partner, the Galapagos Science Center, delivered 12 educational sessions in schools on San Cristobal island, and we developed a range of educational activities in English and Spanish to further engage children internationally in wildlife conservation.

Building upon the success we had with Marti the Hammerhead Shark, we are now developing a book that is 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. Join us as we meet Tessa, the adventurous tortoise in our new book, Tessa the Giant Tortoise: A Galapagos Journey.

Tessa the Giant Tortoise

Many children in Galapagos, especially those who live in urban areas, don’t get the opportunity to see Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild...

What is the storybook about?

Aimed at younger primary school children (5-8 years old, KS1 in the UK), the book will inspire children in Galapagos to connect with nature and the unique animals they share their home with, including the Galapagos giant tortoise. Through the eyes of Tessa, a female giant tortoise on her migration journey to and from the highlands of Santa Cruz island, children will learn about and reflect on the positive relationship they can have with nature through everyday environmentally friendly actions.

During her migration, Tessa will encounter obstacles that pose a threat to her, but through positive human actions, these threats are avoided, allowing her to complete her migration and lay 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 learn about other wildlife, both native and introduced, found in Galapagos as our tortoise makes her journey.

This book will be bilingual 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.

The book will also work alongside tortoise-focused educational materials recently developed for older primary aged school children. In addition, we will sell the book via our online shop and with selected corporate partners so that we can generate funds to support conservation activities in Galapagos.

Tessa the Giant Tortoise storybook crowdfunder

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.

If you would like to support the project, please head over to our Crowdfunder here.

Thank you for your support!

Tessa the Giant Tortoise story book

In our second educational storybook, Tessa the Giant Tortoise: A Galapagos Journey, we join our adventurer, Tessa, 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.

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