Giant Tortoise


  • Status
  • Weight
    up to 700 pounds
  • Length
    up to 4 feet long

There are many subspecies of giant tortoises that are found on different islands and have different appearances. Those that live on the larger islands where there is more rain have “dome” shaped shells, while those that live in drier conditions are smaller tortoises and have a “saddleback” shell.

On June 24, 2012, the world-famous giant tortoise affectionately known as “Lonesome George” passed away. He was the last surviving land tortoise from Pinta Island, one of the northern islands in the Galápagos. Thought to be 100 years old, Lonesome George lived at the Charles Darwin Research Station since he was found in 1971. For more than three decades, the Galápagos National Park tried to save the Pinta subspecies by finding George a mate. Unfortunately they did not succeed. Sadly with Lonesome George’s passing, there will be no more Pinta Island tortoises.


Why They Matter

  • The giant tortoise is an iconic species from the Galápagos and is only found on these islands. They are the largest living tortoise in the world.


  • Extinction Risk Vulnerable
    1. EX

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Giant Tortoise in field

The giant tortoise is threatened by introduced species to the islands, such as dogs and cats which prey on young tortoises, and cattle which compete for grazing vegetation. 

Related Species