Baby giant tortoises born on Necker Island

Richard Branson sits with a Giant Tortoise and a Baby Giant Tortoise on Necker Island
Branson Family
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 21 May 2021

Delighted to share that the first ever baby giant tortoises on Necker Island have been born. We believe these are the first Aldabra giant tortoises bred naturally anywhere in the world outside of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles.

Emily, an eagle-eyed member of the wonderful Virgin Limited Edition team here on Necker, came across the first hatchling not long after it emerged from its nest. When she spotted it, she cleverly realised it had different markings than the other tortoises that live on Necker. A second baby was soon found by Kami and Scott. We quickly brought in our animal conservation team, led by Vaman, to ensure the health and safety of the precious babies.

Branson Family
Branson Family

Their mother found a quiet place to nest with the right conditions and temperature for her eggs to hatch. We have been proud to have giant tortoises on Necker for many years, along with many other endangered tortoise breeds. But this is the first time the giant tortoises have successfully bred. They did lay eggs a few years ago, but sadly they never hatched.

Giant tortoises usually lay between two and seven eggs (not many, especially compared to turtles). But now they have done so successfully, more could follow. Because they nest a few times a year, we hope to see many more baby giant tortoises in the coming months and years. Giant tortoises have an average lifespan of more than 100 years and have been known to live over 250 years - so we hope they have a long happy life here on Necker - and their parents can look forward to grandchildren in several decades' time!

Necker Island sunset with a rainbow
Nichole Villerot

The only other places in the world giant tortoises are found are the Galápagos, which is home to a different species of these beautiful animals. Many species of giant tortoises have gone extinct, and the remaining ones are rare. So it is hugely thrilling news that they have successfully bred naturally here in the British Virgin Islands.

The two hatchlings are doing very well and already exploring the island. I’m sure they will be welcomed by the huge array of wildlife who call Necker home, from other breeds of tortoise to lemurs to flamingos to iguanas to miniature horses. I’ll be sure to share more photos and keep you updated on their progress.