From Greek mythology to Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, tortoises have, throughout history, plodded their way into our storytelling across the globe. 

The tortoise is perhaps best known as the eventual victor in Aesop’s well-known fable “The Tortoise and The Hare”, establishing these charismatic reptiles as a metaphor of persistent diligence over the excessively confident hare.   

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In China, the sacred tortoise symbolises longevity, power, and tenacity, and in Ancient Greek mythology, the tortoise is the symbol for the “messenger” god, Hermes. In today’s busy world, they also serve as an important reminder to slow down, live in the moment and connect with the world around us.


From the Galápagos tortoises at Jersey Zoo, to the Aldabra giant tortoises that serve as “ecosystem engineers” on Round Island in Mauritius and the precious, golden-domed ploughshare from Madagascar, Durrell has worked with tortoises for decades. Sadly, chelonians, which includes tortoises, turtles and terrapins, are now the most threatened vertebrate group and need our help more than ever.

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The Reptile and Amphibian House at Jersey Zoo is home to some of the most endangered species that Durrell works with, but it is in urgent need of improved and more sustainable facilities.
The team has an exciting vision for a Tropical House that will allow them to continue the exemplary care they provide for these precious species.
Learn from Matt Goetz, Curator of Herpetology and Invertebrates at the zoo, how your donations will help us to care for some of the world’s most threatened animals.

Your donation will help us to build a brand new Tropical House

Learn more about the tortoises and turtles at Jersey Zoo

Aldabra giant tortoise

Biggy, the biggest of the four Aldabra tortoises at Jersey Zoo, weighs more than a silverback gorilla!

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Galápagos giant tortoises

Some fully grown Galápagos giant tortoises weighing up to 300kg!

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Ploughshare tortoise

Durrell was the first organisation to successfully breed ploughshare tortoises in captivity

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Radiated tortoise

Radiated tortoises get their name from the yellow lines that radiate out from the centre of each section of shell in a star-like pattern

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Madagascar big-headed turtle

These turtles have unusually large heads, which means they cannot fully hide inside their shell

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