Tortoise Moving Day


On Monday, June 19th, around 9:15 A.M., Gala and Pagos headed for their new home in the recently opened South American exhibit.


The distance they traveled could be measured in yards. For half of the journey, they were moved on a rolling platform by a cadre of keepers. After being lifted off the platform, they were pointed in the right direction and encouraged to make the journey on their own four feet by keepers offering chunks of watermelon.


Galapagos Tortoises are not known for speed. They are, however, known for their size and long lives. They can live to be at least 100 years old and weigh up to 800 pounds. The oldest Galapagos tortoise on record died in June 2006 at the age of 174.


Gala and Pagos are brothers that hatched 4 days apart 31 years ago at Brookfield Zoo. Today they each weigh close to 300 pounds. Gala is grouchy and does not want to be touched. Pagos loves to be touched and have his neck scratched.


To see them up close you can purchase a Tortoise feeding in the Zootique. They eat two times a day at 11:30 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. It is a fun and unique experience.


Galapagos Tortoise makes hissing and moaning sounds by exhaling air. Males compete by rearing their heads up. The tortoise who can reach the highest wins the competition.


Their natural habitat is on the Galapagos Islands where they live in lush highland vegetation and in xerophytic lowlands where the plants have adapted to grow with a limited water supply. In the zoo they eat greens, cactus pads, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, and squash.


Prior to the move they shared an exhibit with three Radiated Tortoise which will remain in the old exhibit. It is believed they will be very happy to have the exhibit to themselves.