What subspecies do you keep? Have you hatched any?
We have been breeding Galapagos tortoises for many years. Some of the tortoises shown above were hatched in the 2004-2007 time period.
The following regarding Chelonoidis nigra subspecies may be more than you want to hear but I feel it necessary to qualify the response as there in not universal agreement.
There is controversy regarding nomenclature and subspecies. In the 90’s, Dr. Edward Louis, Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo, the AZA studbook coordinator, drew blood from many Galapagos tortoises and developed markers to identify most subspecies. Some of our tortoises were included in this effort. These animals are included in the AZA studbook. Per Dr. Louis request, blood was drawn on the remainder of our tortoises and placed in containers with preservative sent by Dr. Louis. The samples were submitted in 2003. No results from this collection have been received from Dr. Louis despite multiple inquires. Tortoises from his initial studies were included in the AZA studbook but not all individuals in our collection have been resulted. Dr. Louis uses his subspecies determination methodology for the AZA studbook.
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In 2004, with the help of friends, we collected samples from most of the non-hatching collection and sent same to M. Russello with the Yale group. Before Dr. Russello graduated to his present position, he graciously ran the studies on about 20% of our samples (looking for possible hoodensis). These results were published in 2007 (Animal Conservation Vol 10, #3, August 2007 p 304-311). These are reported as haplotypes of the mitochondrial DNA (female) from known locations and Microsatellite multi-locus genotypes. In addition to the subspecies we had some hybrids resulting from a Santa Cruz (porteri or nigra nigra(AZA)) female with Isabella males. These studies gave us additional information about previously unknown tortoise linage.
Using the “2012 draft AZA studbook nomenclature” we hold specimens from:
Geochelone nigra nigrita - Santa Cruz ( now Chelonoidis nigra porteri)
Geochelone nigra becki - Piedras blancas
Geochelone nigra vicina - Southern Isabela (would also include guntheri)
Geochelone nigra microphyes - Darwin
Geochelone nigra vandenburghi – Alcedo
as well as subspecies hybrids.
We have been unable to match up pairs and breed from all subspecies.
In the 2012 AZA (yellow) Studbook recommendations, all 24 private participants were asked not to breed. I have not seen an update since this time. It is possible microphyes will be propagated in AZA institutions and the other subspecies/hybrids phased out by attrition. We have not hatched any eggs in the past two years in keeping with the recommendations.
A draft of the 2015 AZA Chelonian Advisory Group Regional Collection Plan is available online which may give some insight into AZA breeding direction as of 2015 . https://ams.aza.org/iweb/upload/DRAFT30DayReview_ChelonianTAGRCP2016-28f42a54.pdf
On a personal note:
When working with these amazing creatures under our stewardship, linage becomes academic. I doubt many of us, when interacting with these big black moving boulders with distinct and unique personalities, care from which region their parents hailed.
Thank you for your thoughtful response. I am sad to hear you have stopped incubating eggs, but I suppose one must follow the rules if you are to be a part of the organization. Your success is amazing.