Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Never Ride a Galapagos Tortoise Wearing a Bikini, While Visiting Richard Branson

Instagram photo of woman wearing bikini writing 100-year-old tortoise sparks controversy


Photo of bikini-clad woman atop endangered tortoise leads to Instagram firestorm

The tortoise is native to seven of the Galapagos Galápagos, islands a volcanic archipelago 1,000 miles West of the Ecuadorian Mainland. With lifespans in the wild of over 100 years, the Galapagos Tortoise is among the-longest lived vertebrates. Apparently a handful of the tortoises have made their way to the British Virgin Islands, where a couple got in social media hot water by posting a photo on Instagram.

Inside Edition on Friday quoted one horrified wildlife expert as saying, "These are incredibly rare animals. You should not be riding on its back. You could injure it, you could stress it out."

The photo was recently uploaded to the Instagram account of Dan Bilzerian, the self-proclaimed "King of Instagram."


Photo of bikini-clad woman atop endangered tortoise leads to Instagram firestorm

"100% it is disrespectful-no need to interfere with nature like that. Just take a photo and move on-but sitting on it? Just shows a lack of class and education," one offended follower wrote, according to the British Mirror tabloid.

The paper reports that Bilzerian shot back, "Get off your soapbox, the people working there said it's fine to sit on them."

He and his girlfriend encountered the tortoise on a visit to Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Island estate.

Several waves of human exploitation of the tortoises as a food source caused a decline in the total wild population from around 250,000 when first discovered in the 16th century to a low of 3,060 individuals in a 1974 census. Modern conservation efforts have subsequently brought tortoise numbers up to 19,317 (estimate for 1995–2009).


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