Galapagos Tortoise

Geochelone Elephantopus

The El Paso Zoo is home to Mr. Potato Head, who arrived from the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1991 where he was hatched in 1951. Like most reptiles, Galapagos tortoises spend much of their day soaking in the sun to warm their bodies. Their endangered status resulted from the introduction on non-native animals on the Galapagos Islands that competed for food and ate hatchlings and eggs. Galapagos tortoises have a symbiotic relationship with the Darwin’s Finch. The tortoise will extend its neck to allow the finch to pick off ectoparasites like ticks. This interaction is called “symbiotic” because the tortoise benefits from having the parasites removed, and the finch benefits by receiving a meal.

Fun Facts


Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines

Family: Testudinidae

Genus: Chelonoidis

Species: G. Elephantopus


Giant tortoises are found only on the Galapagos Islands and prefer to live in dry lowlands.