We went to the world-famous San Diego Zoo this weekend to see their newest exhibit, which houses some of their oldest residents.
The brand-new Reptile Walk, home to more than 50 species of turtles, tortoises, crocodilians, amphibians, and a surprising collection of creatures native to California, is interesting, startling, and way cool, both literally and figuratively.
The Zoo also has one of the largest captive colonies of Galápagos tortoises in the world and has had these giants in the collection since 1928. The original tortoises sent to the San Diego Zoo—yes, they are still with us!—are well over 100 years old today, although we do not know how long a tortoise will continue to produce offspring.
In addition, because Hood Island tortoises Geochelone nigra hoodensis are so rare (estimates were 12 females and 3 males in the 1970s), the San Diego Zoo’s male, number 21, was sent to the Charles Darwin Research Station in 1976 to be part of the breeding program there. So far he has fathered hundreds of tortoises!
They are fun to watch. I remember (years ago) riding a giant tortoise at the Zoo. I wonder if it was this guy?