Quito: No one can ever say no to becoming a Godfather. Not even the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
It is an honour and a privilege that few receive, but in this case, it becomes all the more special, because the UN chief's godchild is none other than a baby giant tortoise by the name of Encantada!
Yes, Ban Ki-moon, who is on a tour to encourage environmental protection for the world heritage site, became the proud godparent to the giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, while he was visiting the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre of the Galapagos National Park (GNP) in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Efe news reported.
Encantada is the 57th born in the Chelonoidis darwini species from Santiago Island and was hatched in artificial incubators in the Puerto Ayora Galapagos breeding centre as part of a conservation programme carried out by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment.
The baby tortoise will stay in the breeding centre for the next five years and will then return to its home island of Santiago, the GNP said in a statement.
"It is our responsibility to preserve the Galapagos, truly a unique world heritage site for current and future generations," Ban said during a ceremony to recognise him as Encantada's godfather.
The GNP's artificial breeding programme for giant tortoises seeks to re-populate the land-dwelling reptiles on several Galapagos islands where their population has fallen or become extinct for various reasons, such as the introduction of an invasive alien species.
The 19-island archipelago is located about 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland coast, and was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1978. It is also a melting pot for marine biodiversity.
(With IANS inputs)