Holy Toledo! “Grand old man” tortoise retires to Ohio

Written by on August 31, 2014 in Rare Critters - No comments

It may seem like an odd place to retire, but Emerson has settled in Toledo after leaving behind the more hospitable climate of San Diego.

Folks figure Emerson, a Galapagos tortoise, is about 100-years-old (the species can live to 150 or so). He weighs around 400 pounds (males can weigh up to 500 pounds). And, the living relic arrived at the Toledo Zoo on Aug. 27 by plane and then truck after a stint at the San Diego Zoo. The Toledo facility hasn’t hosted Galapagos tortoises in more than a decade.


The species is native to the Galapagos Islands, which is near Ecuador, and was among the animals that Charles Darwin observed when he traveled to the region in 1835.  The species was though to have numbered in the tens of thousands before pirates and whalers hunted them. Now, four of the Galapagos tortoise’s 14 subspecies have gone extinct, according to experts.

The surviving species fights for resources with newcomers to the islands. The Galapagos tortoise is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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After Emerson explored his new home Wednesday night, R. Andrew Odum, the Toledo Zoo’s curator of herpetology, beamed about the facility’s latest acquisition.

“He is a spectacular animal,” he told the Toledo Blade. “He’s a very majestic, statesman tortoise.”

“He’s a grand old man,” he said.

Photo San Diego Zoo/YouTube

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