Gálapagos tortoises are the laidback giants of the tortoise world and these huge herbivores love nothing better than feasting on a range of flowers, leaves, and grasses. 

Did you know?  A Galápagos tortoise can go without eating or drinking for up to a year as it can store reserves of food and water in its body!

Breeding: Sexual maturity of Galapagos tortoises is between 20 – 30 years, and these reptiles can continue growing even when they are 40 – 50 years old!
Females use their hind legs to dig a flask-shaped hole about half a metre deep, and lay up to 16 billiard-ball sized eggs. They will urinate in the nest to soften the soil and increase its humidity while laying. Once laid, they fill in the hole and walk away. Incubation range is 3 – 8 months.


A sweet treat for the tortoises.

At the Zoo

Meet our creep of tortoises

  • Snapper (female) hatched at Honolulu Zoo in 1969 and came to Auckland Zoo in 1983
  • Chippie (female) hatched at Honolulu Zoo in 1970 and came to Auckland Zoo in 1983
  • Willy and Smiley (both male) hatched at Honolulu Zoo in 1971 and came to Auckland Zoo in 1983

The Hatchlings

  • Isabela, Guava, Apple and Darwin all hatched at Auckland Zoo on 26 January 2021 to 'young' parents; mum Chippie (47 years) and dad Smiley (46 years)
  • Fernandina hatched at Auckland Zoo on 7 November 2021 to parents mum Chippie and dad Smiley
  • Santiago hatched at Auckland Zoo on 7 March 2022 to parents mum Chippie and dad Smiley

Breeding Tiny Giants - Part 1

Watch as ectotherm experts Don and Sonja explain the science that goes into caring for baby Galápagos tortoises!