The largest land turtle, or tortoise, in the world is the Galapagos Islands tortoise. The Toledo Zoo welcomed "Emerson" late Wednesday evening, coming from the San Diego Zoo in California. Weighing in at 400 lbs. and approximately 100 years old, the tortoise is potentially going to have a mate even though not part of the Galapagos tortoise Species Survival Plan.
Future acquisition of three Galapagos tortoises from the Gladys Porter Zoo of Texas is destined to be part of the Galapagos SSP, Species Survival Plan. The three future tortoises are only two years old so Emerson serves as an ambassador for his species, showing their great size when fully grown. The youngsters do not reach breeding age until 20 - 25 years old, giving Emerson plenty of time to help educate the public about the endangered status of the tortoises in the wild. According to Jeff Sailer, as reported by the Toledo Blade, "The little ones could be here 150 years or more."
Emerson was born in the wild and his exact origins unknown. Captive breeding has made these tortoises available for future generations to enjoy and their longevity is held in awe by many. One hundred and fifty to two hundred years is quite an accomplishment deserving of protection and further education of people about these majestic creatures.
The Toledo Zoo has year-round hours and special events throughout the year.