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After 30-Year Hiatus, Galapagos Tortoises Return to Memphis Zoo

MEMPHIS, TENN. – Memphis Zoo is once again home to Galapagos tortoises. The three brothers, who came to Memphis Zoo by way of Oklahoma City Zoo, are currently on exhibit in the tortoise yards across from the Dragon’s Lair and the Herpetarium. 

“After a 30-year hiatus, Galapagos tortoises have returned to Memphis Zoo,” said Dr. Steve Reichling, area curator. “We’ve been without this iconic species until just recently, when these three young brothers joined us. We’re very excited to continue our work with this dramatic species.”

Galapagos tortoises are a species of extremes – they can be some of the largest and longest-living tortoises in the world.  They can weigh up to 500 pounds and have a body span of 4 feet or more. 

“Galapagos tortoises don’t have solid shells,” explained Reichling. “Their shells are actually made up of small, honeycombed structures that are filled with miniscule air chambers. This distributes the weight of the shell evenly on the back of the individual.”

These tortoises also have a unique way of walking. Their front feet are turned inward, which means that animal never walks in a straight line. When they do walk, they move at a rate of .16 miles per hour, which means it would take a single tortoise six hours to walk one mile.

Posted by Zoo Info at 4:23 PM