Brookfield Zoo Announces Names of Galápagos Tortoises
Brookfield, IL— The wait is over. Brookfield Zoo announced the names of its four tortoises along with the children who selected the winning entries. More than 800 youngsters ages 11 and under submitted suggestions for Brookfield Zoo’s four Galápagos tortoises originally identified as Nos. 3269, 3270, 3271, and 3272 (and color coded orange, yellow, white, and pink respectively). All entries submitted in the Name A Tortoise contest were reviewed. In the end the zoo’s Animal Programs staff and Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, selected the names Tesoro, Isabela, Charles, and Floreana.
Maggie Defend, 5, of Chicago selected Tesoro (pink dot). Her explanation was that Tesoro means “treasure” in Spanish and tortoises are a treasure in nature and at the zoo.
Lexi Reaume, 5, of Frankfort, won with the name Isabela (white dot). Isabela is the island on which this species of Galápagos tortoises is found. (Several children submitted this name suggestion for the same reason. In order to select a winner a computerized random drawing was conducted.)
Sam Peters, 8, of LaGrange Park, chose the name Charles (orange dot) after Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who discovered many variations of species unique to the Galápagos Islands, including tortoises.
The fourth winner, Lena Pontikes, 8, of Park Ridge, selected the name Floreana (yellow dot) because it is the name of one of the 13 Galápagos Islands and described it as being shaped like a cartoon tortoise head.
“We were thrilled that we received so many entries. We even had grade school teachers who sent entry forms home with their students and created a curriculum around the contest so the children could learn all about the tortoises and the Galápagos Islands,” said Strahl. This contest is what Brookfield Zoo is all about. We wanted to engage the children in developing a connection with these animals. Hopefully, they will be motivated to participate in and support conservation programs that help the tortoises and other species around the world.”
The names seem to fit each of the tortoises, even though their gender will not be determined until they are about 15 years old. They can be seen on exhibit in Brookfield Zoo’s Perching Bird House.
Currently, Tesoro, Isabela, Charles, and Floreana, who arrived last fall from Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas, are quite small. They each weigh less than a pound, but when fully grown they could weigh upwards of 450 pounds and measure between 4 and 5 feet long. They will reach full size at about 40 years old, and can live between 100 and 150 years.
The Galápagos tortoise is thought to belong to just one species, with 14 different sub-species, three of which are believed to be extinct. Today, it is estimated there are approximately 15,000 of these creatures left in the wild. The tortoises at Brookfield Zoo belong to the Geochelone nigra vicina sub-species found around the Cerro Azul volcano ridge on Isabela Island. Only about 700 of this sub-species remain in the wild.
Celebrating its 75th year, the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.
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