ASHEBORO, NC – Tort, a 60-year-old Galapogos tortoise, who along with partner Retort gave the North Carolina Zoo its first look at the exotic creatures of the world over 40 years ago, has died at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida.

The tortoise, a member of the largest living tortoise species originating from the Galapogos Islands, a volcanic archipelago west of the Ecuadorian mainland, died Nov. 18.

Tort had just reproduced for the first time recently, fathering four to five hatchlings that the North Carolina Zoo hopes to host when its Amazon habitat opens in the future.

Considered a “vulnerable” species, Galapogos tortoise numbers began declining in the 16th century. Thanks to conservation and breeding efforts for tortoises in human care, more than 19,000 tortoises currently live and thrive on their ancestral island.

The North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest conservation park and a global leader in preserving wildlife and wild spaces.

About the North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo provides an experience like no other zoo anywhere. With five miles of exhibits, nearly 2,000 animals and 52,000 plants it is the largest natural habitat zoo in the world and an international leader in wildlife conservation.

Find yourself surrounded by some of Africa’s giants including elephants, rhinos, and giraffes; share the love of gorillas with Mosuba and his six-member troop; polar bears Nikita and Anana take polar plunges every day at the Rocky Coast Exhibit; or join in the fun at the mud café in the Kidzone.

Located in center of the state in Asheboro, it is convenient to visit from anywhere in North Carolina. The North Carolina Zoo welcomes nearly 750,000 guests each year. Plan your adventure at



About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The North Carolina Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit