The first response to my call for news and notes on Charles Darwin’s birthday celebration comes from none other than local politics guru Tom Shepard. This from the architect of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ re-election last year:

San Diego has one very tangible link to Darwin. After the Charles Darwin Research Station and National Park were established in the Galapagos Islands with the charge of preserving and restoring the island habitats and native species, they imported a male giant tortoise from the San Diego Zoo (appropriately named “Diego”) who has been the center-piece of their captive breeding program — a program that has successfully re-introduced the tortoises on several of the islands where their populations had been either nearly or completely destroyed. Diego is over 150 years old and still going strong.

Both the University of San Diego and San Diego State University have put together big bicentennial celebrations of Darwin’s birth — which is on February 12 — and the 150th anniversary of his seminal book on evolution “On the Origin of Species.”

Meanwhile, I’m on the hunt for a picture of Diego. And keep e-mailing me with Darwin stories at


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