Christmas has come early for Auckland Zoo’s Galapagos tortoises Smiley, Willy, Snapper, and Chippie, who have just moved into their redeveloped exhibit, The Galapagos.
Features of their new home include a much larger indoor facility with smart new heating and UV lighting, pools and nest boxes, and a completely re-landscaped outdoor environment to mimic the Galapagos Islands’ climate and terrain.
New mud pools a hit
Male tortoises Smiley and Willy and females Snapper and Chipper were quick to explore and settle into their new home, which boasts a balmy daytime temperature of between 28 to 30 degrees.
“A sure sign that they were feeling very comfortable was their interest in eating so soon after they moved in. They also wasted no time in trying out their new pools,” says Richard.
Visitors can get up close
“It’s aesthetically very different from the past in ways that are really great for both our tortoises, and our visitors, who will be able to get closer than ever to see and experience them,” says Auckland Zoo’s curator of ectotherms and birds, Richard Gibson.
“The new house provides year-round warmth on a much larger scale and will keep our tortoises visible and active year-round. Through our new heating system, we’re able to provide extended daylight in the winter via LED flood lamps, and the tortoises also have heated pools for soaking, which also help maintain humidity.
“Outside, our tortoises have a dry, more barren landscape to better reflect where they come from, and a mud pool to wallow in, which is great for their skin and thermo-regulation, and is something they naturally love to do,” says Richard.