We have had Galápagos tortoises at the San Diego Zoo since 1928. Many of the original tortoises sent here back then are still with us. They are well over 100 years old, making them the oldest animals in the Zoo!
These giant tortoises tend to lead a peaceful, lazy life that centers on eating, relaxing in the sun, or wallowing in water puddles. They also like a good mud bath! We've added some changes to the tortoises' Zoo home, and we put in some fun things for humans, too! There is a life-size statue of a Galápagos tortoise for you to sit and pose on, and examples of differently shaped tortoise shells for you to touch. You can help keepers feed the tortoises at certain times. Come celebrate these gentle giants during Reptilemania!
Scientific name: Chelonoidis nigra
Range: Galápagos Islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador
Habitat: From open, grassy areas to rocky, volcanic outcrops
Life span: 100 years or more! The oldest life span on record belongs to an adult female Galápagos tortoise in an Australian zoo that was documented to be at least 171 years old.
Diet: Herbivorous. Favorite foods in the wild include prickly pear cactus and fruits, as well as flowers, water ferns, leaves, and grasses.
Drought resistant: Galápagos tortoises can go without eating or drinking for up to a year because they can store food and water so well.
What's in a name?: Galápago is one of the Spanish words for "tortoise."