Aldabra giant tortoise

Aldabrachelys gigantea

PZ Misc 15 04 21 LR 13
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Reptiles
Order: Testudines
Family: Testudinidae

Paignton Zoo is home to five Aldabra giant tortoises; males Elvis and Timmy, and females Miley, Cleo and Dora. Our gentle giants are very special as they were confiscated by Customs from an illegal importation back in 1986. They’ve been enjoying a peaceful life at the zoo ever since!

The Aldabra giant tortoise lives in open grassy areas with trees and bushes, scrubland and mangrove swamps, on the islands of the Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles.

In the wild they feed primarily on vegetation, but they are opportunistic and will also feed on invertebrates and carrion. Our group feed on a mixture of vegetation, including grass, browse and plants, and green vegetables.

Interesting facts!

  • Giant tortoises are known for their slowness of movement and are believed to be one of the longest living animals in the world, with some individuals living up to 200 years of age!
  • They are active by day, basking for periods of time when it is warm. There is no strict hierarchy and individuals can live happily in groups or be solitary.
  • On average, sexual maturity in this species is reached at around 30 years old. Incubation and the sex of the offspring depends on the temperature. In warm temperatures eggs hatch in about 110 days, whereas they take 250 days to hatch in cool temperatures. Males develop at lower temperatures (20-27 degrees), and females at higher temperatures (30+ degrees).

Conservation

The Aldabra Atoll is protected by the Seychelles Islands Foundation. There are some conservation breeding programmes mainly on the Seychelles and Mauritius, to protect this species and ensure its survival. Their current threats include climate change, habitat destruction and hunting.