Even as a docile vegetarian, there are few more impressive creatures than the giant Galapagos land tortoise. No one knows how old these creatures can grow to be in the wild, since no one has been living on the islands long enough to see one survive to its natural old age. Many are documented at over 150 years old.
Weighing in at half a ton, the greatest danger the tortoise poses is stepping on your toe. This tranquility has not always serve the giant tortoise well. Once they were frequently attacked by invasive dogs and kidnapped by sailors for meat on their long voyages. When Charles Darwin visited, a half a million giant tortoises lived here, today only a few thousand remain.
Fortunately, mating is a male tortoise’s favorite pastime. Grunts from their amorous efforts can be heard throughout the colony areas. Happily, their enthusiasm for building the gene pool is making it possible for many new hatchlings to be released into the wild. Now all we have to do is wait a few decades for them to grow.
NOTE: As islands go, the Galapagos are fairly young. Marked by active volcanoes, black lava flows, old and recent, cover vast sections of the land. Appropriately, my art is done on black paper lending an air of igneous drama to my subject matter.