FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Note: Images of the Galápagos tortoises may be downloaded at www.CZS.org/pressroom.
Help Name Brookfield Zoo’s Newest Residents: Galápagos Tortoises
Brookfield, IL—Four Galápagos tortoises—the world’s largest living tortoise species—now call Brookfield Zoo home. But these four cute reptiles, currently known as Nos. 3269, 3270, 3271, and 3272 (and color coded orange, yellow, white, and pink respectively), are in need of names. The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages the zoo, is now asking children ages 11 and younger to help name the tortoises through a contest that will take place from February 18 through March 12, 2010.
“At Brookfield Zoo, our mission is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of CZS. “What better way to get our guests engaged, especially at a young age, than by providing opportunities to feel personally involved? Allowing kids to develop a bond with these endangered, long-lived animals may motivate them to also participate in and support conservation programs that help the tortoises and other animals in the wild.”
The tortoises at Brookfield Zoo, whose gender will not be determined until they are about 15 years old, hatched in summer 2009 and currently all weigh less than a pound. Eventually, they could grow to an average weight of 450 pounds (females weigh less) and measure between 4 and 5 feet long! They will reach full size at about 40 years old, although depending on their diet, they could continue to grow throughout their entire lives. Galápagos tortoises can live between 100 and 150 years, which means that winners can visit the tortoises they named for many years and even bring their children and grandchildren, making it a multi-generational experience.
All entries will be considered. However, the winning names will be selected based on originality and connection to the Society’s mission. Assistance from older siblings, parents, or caregivers is encouraged.
No purchase is necessary. Entry forms and ballot boxes are available by the Galápagos tortoises’ exhibit in Perching Bird House or at Hamill Family Play Zoo. Forms may also be downloaded at www.CZS.org/NameATortoise and mailed to: Name A Tortoise, Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513. Completed entries must include a suggested name for one of the tortoises; an explanation in 50 words or less for why that name was chosen; the entrant’s name, complete address, telephone number; and a parent’s or legal guardian’s signature. One entry per person is allowed. All submissions must be deposited in one of the ballot boxes or postmarked by
March 12, 2010, and received no later than March 17, 2010.
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Help Name Brookfield Zoo’s Newest Residents: Galápagos Tortoises—add 1
A panel comprised of the Society’s Animal Programs staff and Dr. Stuart Strahl will select the winning names. Each of the four winners will receive a Share the Care package for the tortoise named and an invitation to come to Brookfield Zoo with up to five family members and meet the tortoises as well as some of the keepers that care for the animals.
The winning names will be announced the week of March 22. For a copy of the official rules, go to the zoo’s Web site or call (708) 688-8351.
The giant tortoise is probably the most well-known of all the animals that inhabit the Galápagos Islands and even gave the archipelago its name. 'Galápago' translates to tortoise in Spanish and may derive from the word for saddle, referring to the distinctive saddle-like shell of some of the tortoises.
The population of tortoises was decimated between the 17th and 19th centuries, when hundreds of thousands were killed for their meat by buccaneers, whaling ships, and merchantmen. Later, early settlers hunted the tortoises for their meat and cleared large areas of the tortoises’ habitat for agriculture. In addition, they introduced domestic animals to the islands, many of which had a disastrous effect on the tortoises.
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.
In addition, the Galápagos tortoise is listed on Appendix I—a list of the most endangered animals and plants threatened with extinction—of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial.
Galápagos tortoises have a huge body supported by strong, thick legs that possess large scales, which serve as protective devices when they withdraw into their shell. The Galápagos tortoises at Brookfield Zoo, also known as Iguana Cove tortoises, have a typical domed shell. In the wild, they are found primarily in the highlands, where there is plenty of vegetation to support their immense size. They are active during much of the day, spending most of their time feeding. Their lower jaws are covered by horny ridges with serrated edges that help them cut through tough plants. Tortoises can store food and water very efficiently and for a very long time, allowing them to go without eating or drinking for up to one year.
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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