San Diego, California - Emerson, a male tortoise approximately 100 years old and weighing about 400 pounds, arrived at the Toledo Zoo from the San Diego Zoo late on Aug. 27 and is scheduled to be on exhibit at the zoo's Tiger Terrace area.

The species is native to the Galapagos Islands, near Ecuador and off the western coast of South America. Galapagos tortoises can live for 150 or so years, with males measuring up to 6 feet long and weighing as much as 500 pounds (females are smaller).

This species was among the animals that Charles Darwin observed when he traveled to the Galapagos Islands in 1835. The information Darwin gleaned from that trip helped shape his resulting theory of evolution by natural selection, which has become the cornerstone of modern biological science.

While the species is thought to have numbered in the tens of thousands before pirates and whalers started hunting them, four of the Galapagos tortoise's 14 subspecies have gone extinct. The surviving species face competition for resources from nonnative animals humans have introduced to the islands. Although few animals could kill a full-grown tortoise, many animals eat the tortoises' eggs, decimating reproduction rates. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as vulnerable.

The Toledo Zoo is committed to inspiring others to join us in caring for animals and conserving the natural world. As part of that mission, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a leader in global wildlife conservation. AZA member institutions are dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors and a better future for all living things.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the mission of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.