Bravo Relaxed and Comfortable in New Home at Turtle Canyon

A 650-pound Galapagos tortoise named Bravo, the star of Newport Aquarium’s newest exhibit Turtle Canyon, arrived in Northern Kentucky the evening of March 6 by way of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C.

Bravo has adapted well to his new environment in the Bluegrass State after calling Riverbanks his home since the 90s.

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According to Newport Aquarium Biologist Michelle Fry, who is Bravo’s primary caretaker, it took him only a few days to come out of his shell (pun intended).

“Once he got used his new surroundings, he was very relaxed anytime people would come around,” said Fry.

If Bravo was nervous due to the move, it certainly did not show in his appetite. Within four days, the grass at Turtle Canyon was gone, as Galapagos tortoises are known for their constant grazing.

Three times a week, he is fed a bevy of lettuce, carrots, apples and Mazuri Tortoise Pellets, which add fiber and vitamins to his diet and serve as an extra water source.

Bravo digging into his dinner.

Bravo digging into his dinner.

While each day he can snack on hay, every other day Bravo additionally gets to eat a combination of cactus, romaine lettuce and dandelion greens.

Galapagos tortoises, which are listed as endangered by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, are the largest tortoises in the world, and with Bravo’s move to Newport Aquarium, he is officially the largest turtle in the Midwest.

Bravo finishes his meal. Someone needs a napkin.

Bravo finishes his meal. Someone needs a napkin.

Fry said Bravo at times enjoys being scratched by people, an instinct Galapagos tortoises possess in the wild when they allow birds to climb their shells and limbs to pick off insects. Bravo signals his eagerness for a good scratching by standing up tall and stretching out his neck and limbs.

For those with a chance to see Bravo in person, you ought to give it serious consideration. Pictures do not do any justice for this gentle giant. Turtle Canyon opens to the public on Saturday, March 22.

Here’s a little background information on Galapagos tortoises, according to arkive.org:

“The enormous Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) was once so numerous that Spanish explorers of the region named the Galapagos archipelago after its extraordinary inhabitant; ‘galapagos’ means ‘tortoise’ in Spanish.

“This giant reptile is the largest living tortoise, with relatively heavy limbs, a long neck and a heavy carapace that can reach lengths of up to 150 centimetres (4 feet, 11 inches). The different subspecies of the Galapagos giant tortoise illustrate the principal of ‘adaptive radiation’, where populations isolated on islands or on parts of larger islands within the Galapagos chain have adapted to different conditions, and now have distinct appearances. The subspecies can be generally separated into those with ‘domed’ shells, which occur on the larger, wetter islands, and smaller tortoises with ‘saddleback’ carapaces that are found on smaller islands with dry vegetation.

It is thought that the distinctive saddleback shell of some populations of the Galapagos giant tortoise enables its bearer to reach taller vegetation, with these tortoises also having longer limbs and necks.”

For those with a chance to see Bravo in person, you ought to give it serious consideration. Pictures do not do any justice for this gentle giant. Turtle Canyon opens to the public on Saturday, March 22.

Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – to read #TurtleTuesday updates.

One thought on “Bravo Relaxed and Comfortable in New Home at Turtle Canyon

  1. Pingback: A Touching Moment at Newport Aquarium’s Turtle Canyon | Aquarium Works

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