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Gru the Galapagos Tortoise

Gru the Galapagos TortoiseHi, I’m Gru  – a male giant Galapagos Tortoise

We’re the biggest of all the tortoises and the heaviest. We live longer than the others too. We only live in one place in the world – the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Our Galapagos Islands are very interesting. They have volcanoes, hills and flat land.  The weather on our Galapagos Islands changes a lot during the year. Sometimes it’s hot and dry and at sometimes it rains a lot.

In the rainy season I like to rest in waterholes and mud pools on the flat land. The water holes feel really, really good. The water helps me keep cool, and the mud supports my weight so my legs and feet get a rest from carrying my heavy shell around.

When it gets hotter and the mud dries out, we move up into the hills where it’s cooler. When I get hungry I eat any green vegetation I can find – mostly grass, cacti and tree bark. Some people say I’m lazy but I’m not really. I just like a peaceful contented life, grazing on food and looking around at things on the Island very slowly.

A long time ago some of my family’s relatives lived on some of the other Galapagos Islands, but not all of them have survived. Some of my cousins have flatter shells. My shell has a raised area like a hump above my neck so I can lift my head up further when I eat.

I know I said we only live in the Galapagos Island but some of us live in zoos too. In the Singapore zoo we share our living space with Land Iguanas. The Land Iguanas look a bit scary but they’re ok.  Our food is different in a zoo – we eat carrots, bamboo, hibiscus leaves and flowers and Lucerne hay.

When I was born I came out of an egg the size of a tennis ball. Now I’m very big – I weigh about 120 kilos (264 pounds) and my shell is one metre (3.3 feet) long. My shell is dome-shaped and dark grayish-brown. My legs are strong and although I walk slowly, I can climb over quite big rocks if I need to.

I’m only 100 years old. That’s still young for a tortoise. If I’m lucky, I might live to 160 years.


Gru the Galapagos Tortoise