Giant Tortoises: Our oldest residents
Some of the Zoo’s oldest—and slowest—residents are the Galápagos tortoises. Many of them have been with us since 1928, making them the oldest residents in the Zoo. They arrived here as young adults and we estimate their age to be over 100 years old! Numbers painted on each animal’s shell help the keepers identify their charges: white-numbered tortoises are males, red numbers indicate females.
Each tortoise has its own unique personality: some are really shy while others are more interactive and affectionate with their keepers. They truly love to be petted and will stretch up for a neck rub or eat right out of the keeper’s hand.
The tortoise yard has lots of room for the herd to roam; a heated barn is located in the back of the exhibit for cooler days and nippy nights. The tortoises are trained to respond to color targets so a keeper can easily herd them in and out of the barn by showing them a particular color. They’re attracted to the colors found in flowers, which are one of their favorite foods—reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges. Try wearing your brightest clothing and see if you get the attention of a Galápagos tortoise!