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Thieves Steal 123 Baby Giant Turtles From Galapagos Islands

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© Getty Images A baby Galapagos tortoise crawling in the sand.(photo courtesy iStock / Getty Images Plus Mshake)

By Patrick Clarke, TravelPulse

Giant turtles are emblematic of the Galapagos Islands. However, a recent theft is threatening the viability of the destination's precious icon.

More than 120 baby giant turtles have been stolen from a breeding facility in the famous archipelago. "They were all taken at once, 123 in all. It was a robbery," Ecuador lawmaker Washington Paredes confirmed to the AFP news agency over the phone Thursday.

"The turtles are just there. If somebody wants to go in by night and steal, they can," Paredes added, pointing out that the facility on Isabela Island is poorly protected. There are no light sensors or security cameras.

According to News.com.au, prosecutors have opened an investigation into the theft, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence for those responsible.

This is not the first time turtles have been stolen from the Galapagos. In June, more than two dozen adult turtles were returned to the islands after being smuggled into Peru.

The Galapagos, an exotic tourist destination popular with adventure travelers and wildlife enthusiasts alike, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site four decades ago and is home to a total of 12 species of giant turtles.

The destination also received a 2018 Travvy for being the Best Expedition/Adventure Destination-International.

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Travel - U.S. Daily News: Thieves Steal 123 Baby Giant Turtles From Galapagos Islands
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