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Auckland Zoo Successfully Hatches First Galapagos Tortoise In New Zealand

After a four month incubation time, the first Galapagos tortoise hatched December 30, 2017.

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The Auckland Zoo announced that it has successfully hatched the very first Galapagos tortoise in the country, and only the second zoo in Australasia to do so. The Taronga/Western Plains Zoo in Australia had the first successful breeding of the tortoise.


The tortoise weighed just 60 grams when it hatched December 30. Its mom, Chippie, is 47 years old, and its dad, Smiley, is 46 years old.

“These island giants are extraordinary creatures whose story of tragic plunder and decimation, followed by modern understanding of their plight and gradual recovery, has much in common with many New Zealand species,” Richard Gibson, curator of ectotherms and birds at the zoo said in a statement announcing the hatchling.

“The redevelopment of our tortoise enclosure two years ago provided us with a fantastic and much larger climate-controlled indoor area and the capacity to hold two males separately, enabling us to welcome back our second male Willy from Ti Point Reptile Park. Willy’s return has most certainly been a great stimulant to Smiley as a male competitor, and we hope to see increasing success with higher rates of fertility among future clutches.”


The zoo currently has four adult Galapagos tortoises. They were hatched at the Honolulu Zoo and arrived at the Auckland Zoo in 1983.

“We hope that this first fertile egg, this first hatchling is going to be an indicator or marker for things to come,” Gibson said.

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While the baby tortoise is not yet out for public display, the zoo will launch an online competition to name the chelonian. Follow the zoo’s Facebook and Twitter page for more information on the naming contest.