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Giant Galapogas Tortoise
The giant Galapogas tortoises are the most famous wildlife in the Galapogas Islands and the islands are called 'Galapogas' after them.  
Galapogas Tortoise 

Giant Galapogas Tortoise, Chato Tortoise Reserve, Santa Cruz Island - photo with thanks to Roz Gordon

There are several different subspecies of giant Galapogas land tortoise endemic to single islands or to parts of one island.  The giant land tortoise subspecies are slightly different shapes, adapted to suit the landscape of their particular island habitat.   Giant Galapogas tortoises can weigh up to 250kgs and live for more than 150 years.
Giant Galapagos tortoises

Galapogas Giant Tortoises are vegetarians

The Galapogas tortoise eats a range of different plants and fruits including cacti. 
There were once as many as a quarter of a million giant Galapogas land tortoises in the islands but nineteenth century whalers took many thousands of them onto their whaling ships as a source of fresh meat.  The giant tortoises were kept upside down in the hold and could survive like that until the tortoise meat was needed.  There are now only around 15,000 Galapogas tortoises left and three of the giant tortoise subspecies have been wiped out completely.
Giant Galapogas tortoise with a Galapogas hawk

Giant Galapogas Tortoise with Galapogas Hawk 

The most famous giant Galapagos tortoise was Lonesome George, who lived at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island.  He was thought to be the last pure Pinta tortoise in existence (though this is now disputed), so with his death in 2012, another subspecies of giant Galapogas tortoise may have disappeared.  Lonesome George was believed to be around 100 years old when he died.
Galapagos giant tortoise

A giant Galapogas tortoise heading to a pool for a drink

Try Galapogas Islands background reading for more information about the giant Galapogas tortoise and how it evolved in the Galapogas Islands.  Find out about volunteering in the Galapogas Islands or take a look at more Galapogas wildlife photos.
Galapogas Tortoise Photo Gallery
Giant Galapogas tortoise main photo by 
Wildlife photos from the Galapogas Islands

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Galapogas Tortoise eating bananasGiant Galapogas Land Tortoise