Wild Encounters: Tortoise Babies & New Enclosure

Wild Encounters

Micah: Welcome to another edition of Wild Encounters.  I’m here with Scott, the go-to guy for all things reptiles and we are here with one of the bigger reptiles you’ll find, one of the friendliest ones too, the Galapagos tortoise.  It’s spring time.  It’s time for new additions to the zoo and we don’t leave out the tortoises when it comes to that either.

Scott:  You can’t leave the tortoises out.  And you’re right, this is a Galapagos tortoise, one of the largest tortoises in the world.  And this is a baby Galapagos tortoise.  Now this is the dad of this animal and we can see the difference in size.  So this guy weighs about 550 pounds, this one weights just a few ounces. 

Micah:  So a big difference in time, but it takes a long time to get from this one to one, right?

Scott:  It does.  It’s going to take at least twenty years to get for this one to be sexually mature, but Abrazo here, he came into the country 90 years ago.  So we think he might have been an adult then, so what if he was already 90 years old when he first came in?  That would make him 180.  So these tortoises live a very long time.  We don’t even know how long they can live.

Micah:  And we kind of have to adjust and react to them.  Brandon, if you could just turn down right here.  You got one right there next to you on the ground.  So they’re friendly reptiles that like to come up and say hello, but we have these new ones here, and we’re having to expand the exhibit because we have so many.

Scott:  Right.  Well, we started out with four adult Galapagos tortoises and because of our successful reproduction program, now we have 26 Galapagos tortoises.  Not all of them will stay here, but some are and so we had to expand our exhibit, double our capacity to take care of our very successful captive breeding program. 

Micah:  Which is really important, conservation here at Riverbanks Zoo.  And for an animal like this that has struggled with numbers in the wild, that’s really important for keeping Galapagos tortoises around for years to come.

Scott:  Well absolutely.  And the reason we have a captive population is to establish a reserve population.  There’s only a couple of thousand of Galapagos tortoises left in the wild of this species and if something happened, a major…let’s say an earthquake or volcanic or something, destroys the wild population, then we could repopulate the islands with animals that are produced in captivity. 

Micah:  And of course, like I said earlier, very friendly animals, coming right up here to me.  They like to be scratched.  They like to come up and get petted.  So just a really friendly animal, a big animal, an old animal, and one of the coolest animals you’ll ever see here on Wild Encounters at Riverbanks Zoo.  So come on by.  You can go inside and see where the little, tiny babies are or you can come outside to the brand-new expanded exhibit and see these friendly reptiles up close.  We’ll see you next time.

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