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Tame yet stressed

All Galápagos visitors are impressed by the tameness of the islands’ animals. They often wonder: are these animals even able to flee? The answer is yes, they are, and they actually do. They flee from familiar natural enemies such as Galápagos hawks or Galápagos snakes. So why do they not flee from human beings, or from introduced dogs and cats? Because there were no human beings, dogs, cats, or any other terrestrial predators on the Galápagos Islands for millions of years. As a result, flight behaviour got lost in the course of evolution. This proved to be the undoing of some species: the introduction of terrestrial predators by humans made the island animals easy prey.

Today’s research indicates, however, that the animals are stressed, even if they do not run away from humans and terrestrial predators. And the Galápagos animals are slowly starting to recognise their forgotten and new enemies. Some even flee from them.