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.
- The Galápagos Islands were discovered in 1535, but first appeared on the maps, of Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius, around 1570.
- The top shell of a tortoise is called the carapace; the shell that covers a tortoise's belly is called the plastron.
- Tortoises lay eggs. Babies hatch in four to eight months.
- These animals can weigh up to 573 pounds!
Species: G. Elephantopus
Giant tortoises are found only on the Galapagos Islands and prefer to live in dry lowlands.