Tortoises enjoy pumpkin breakfast at San Diego Zoo - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tortoises enjoy pumpkin breakfast at San Diego Zoo

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Zoo's Galapagos tortoises celebrated the Halloween season today by munching on pumpkins for breakfast, park officials said.

The tortoises were led by Grandma, who is estimated to be around 130 years old.

Of the zoo's 13 Galapagos tortoises, 12 are believed to be more than 90 years old. Nine of the baker's dozen arrived at the zoo in 1928.

"I can't tell you how many people are absolutely amazed when they come to the exhibit," said Jonny Carlson, San Diego Zoo reptile keeper. "They're surprised at just how big or old the tortoises are, and that's just something you can't appreciate without seeing them in person."

Galapagos tortoises are the giants of the species. The zoo said males generally tip the scales at more than 500 pounds, while females weigh around 250 pounds.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Galapagos tortoise as a vulnerable species.

Modern conservation efforts have helped increase population numbers after human hunting almost wiped out the species, according to the zoo. Tortoises face threats from nonnative species, such as rats, dogs and cats, which eat tortoise eggs and young tortoises.

San Diego Zoo Global partners with the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galapagos Islands to help with breeding and give the hatchlings a head start by protecting them until they are old enough to survive on their own.

Zoo officials said visitors can see Grandma and the other tortoise seniors at Reptile Mesa in the Discovery Outpost area. They said Grandma is smaller than her roommates and tends to stay in one location, moving only when she feels it is necessary.

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