Same Shells, New Digs: Galapagos Tortoise Habitat Under Construction at OKC Zoo

The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Galapagos tortoises are getting a new, modern habitat located just inside the Zoo’s entrance! The approximately $700,000 expansion is under construction in the former Secret Garden area of the Children’s Zoo and should be complete by late summer.

Rendering of Galapagos Habitat

The new Galapagos tortoise habitat consists of one indoor and two outdoor spaces. The climate-controlled 900 sq. ft. indoor habitat consists of a nesting area, an indoor pool, natural substrate floors, a vestibule for animal caretakers with a sink and utility space. It also features an open-air viewing area for Zoo guests. The outdoor spaces total 8,000 sq. ft. to roam with natural boulders, a log wall and native landscaping. A walkway for Zoo guests will also be constructed.

Galapagos Tortoise Habitat Plan

Galapagos tortoises are some of the longest living animals in the world, and the Zoo’s group of four are its oldest inhabitants. Unfortunately, spotty recordkeeping before they found their forever homes means it’s not possible to determine their exact ages. Max, Ellie, Isabela (Isa for short) and Mrs. B range from 70 to 110 years old! Max has lived at the OKC Zoo since 1974, and he’s coming up on his 75th birthday. Ellie has been with us since 1986, and she’s believed to be in her late 70s. Isa and Mrs. B arrived in 2016 and are the most senior of the group. Isa is about 90 years old and Mrs. B is between 100 and 110. The Galapagos tortoises will benefit from the new addition’s larger outdoor space and larger, modern indoor space.

Galapagos Tortoise Max

Their current habitat at Island Life will be going away when construction begins on the Zoo’s next major project bringing its African species together. Construction on that project is tentatively scheduled to begin in mid-2020.

Galapagos tortoises were on a rapid decline towards extinction, going from over 200,000 individuals in the 1600s all the way down to 3,000 in the 1970s. Due to rigorous conservation efforts, their population is on the rise! There are now about 20,000 Galapagos tortoises in the wild.

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