At the Zoo: Aldabra Giant Tortoise
The Zoo recently upgraded an area of Safari Africa to show off one of Africa’s lesser-known giants, the Aldabra tortoise. Native to the Aldabra Atoll, an island north of Madagascar, Aldabras are the last giant tortoise species in the eastern hemisphere. Their cousins, the Galapagos tortoise, reside on the opposite side of the world, off the Pacific coast of South America. You can view the two species side by side here at the Zoo. While the Galapagos tortoises are the world’s largest tortoise, the Aldabras have enormous personalities. Lowry Park Zoo is home to 5 adult Aldabra tortoises: 2 adult males named “Al” and “Bruce,” and 3 females named “Dabby,” “Sligh,” and “Scooter.”
Each day, the Zoo invites guests to interact with these tortoises. “Al” and “Bruce” are the stars of the show and eagerly stretch out to receive scratches along their necks! “Al” self-identifies as the dominant male within the group; he thinks he is in charge. He enjoys socializing with staff and guests alike. Although most tortoises are motivated by food, “Al” will actually pass by his leafy green lunch to get a head scratch instead. “Bruce” similarly enjoys human interaction, but he is often out of reach, soaking in the middle of the pool he claims as his own. “Dabby” and “Scooter,” are more comfortable left alone or, better yet, with a fresh cut branch from a mulberry tree. “Sligh” however, loves bulldozing across the yard, as a determined, yet aimless wanderer. Each of the Zoo’s Aldabra tortoises has a unique personality, and we greatly enjoy our time with them. Luckily, you have a long time to get to know these guys, because Aldabra tortoises can live over 200 years!
About: Aldabra Giant Tortoise
Grasslands, scrub areas and mangrove swamps.
Islands of Aldabra and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
Weight: up to 560 pounds.
Length: average 4.5 feet.
Oldest recorded: 152 years old.
Lays 9-25 tennis ball-sized eggs with an incubation period of 73 to 160 days.
Grasses, fruits and succulent plants.
Fun Facts: Aldabra Giant Tortoise
- Aldabra giant tortoises have incredibly long necks, which they use to tear leaves from branches higher up a tree.
- A group of tortoises is called a creep.
- Tortoises cannot swim, but some species like to rest in pools of water.
- It takes a Giant tortoise about 20 years to reach breeding size.
- A tortoise’s armor makes it highly resistant to attack. If threatened, tortoises quickly draw their heads in with a loud hiss and bring their plated front legs together. The tail is tucked in for additional protection.
Conservation: Aldabra Giant Tortoise
Our mission is to connect people with the living earth and spending an afternoon up close with these ancient creatures is a wonderful way to come to care about their lives in the wild. The Zoo is home to many endangered, threatened, and vulnerable wildlife species and we are invested in their survivals. We take excellent care of more than 1,000 animals in a lush tropical garden that is open to the public 363 days a year. This is your Zoo and we hope to share all the animals’ stories with you.
We participate in nearly 100 AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, which are cooperative breeding and conservation programs to help ensure species survival. Some of these individuals that are bred at zoos and aquariums are ultimately released into the wild to increase wild populations. This is especially true of reptiles and amphibians, including some turtle and tortoise species.
How You Can Help
Adopt an Animal!
You can help support expert animal care at the Zoo as well as local and global conservation efforts by purchasing a symbolic animal adoption package.
When you become a member of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo you are supporting conservation year-round.
Be a Conservation Leader!
Each of us can help protect the environment, wildlife, and habitats through choices we make in our daily lives. Even small changes can make big positive impacts on the world around us.
- Be a responsible pet owner – Learn all about an animal before deciding to bring one into your home. If you can no longer take care of your pet, find it a new home. Releasing an animal that you have had as a pet is dangerous for that animal and for other wildlife.
- If you see an animal that does not naturally live in your area, call animal control or the police for help. Invasive species are a big problem in Florida as well as in Aldabra and you can be part of the solution.
- Plant native – Gardening with native plants helps native animals. Learn about what you can plant in your area at Florida’s Native Wildflowers.