Antonio and Eberhard – Galápagos Tortoises

Let’s Get to Know Each Other


No two tortoises are the same – not even when they belong to the same species. And this is especially true for Tony and Eberhard, the two males from Prague. One is big and cool, a true giant of the pavilion; the other is hot-blooded, long-necked and not even one third of the weight of the first. However, each is a real personality. Do you know them?

Antonio a Eberhard – želvy sloní. Zdroj: Zoo Praha Antonio a Eberhard – želvy sloní. Zdroj: Zoo Praha

Eberhard – full name Eberhard von Leipziger Hauptbahnhof – is a Santa-Cruz Galápagos Tortoise. In the wild, his relatives live on the Galápagos island of Santa Cruz. As is common for Santa-Cruz tortoises, Eberhard has a dome-shaped shell, typical for tortoises that mainly forage on the ground. He came to Prague from the Leipzig Zoo on 12 September 1996 and has been a resident of the Pavilion of Big Tortoises since 1998.

As for his character, Eberhard shows “calm power” and a great appetite. He avoids conflict at all costs, and backs away every time someone shows even the slightest sign of annoyance, rather than get involved in a fight. But as is the case with calm characters, once his patience runs out Eberhard can get really angry and erupt like a volcano, pushing everything out of his way. Weighing 237 kg, which makes him the largest tortoise in the Pavilion, it is not very difficult for him...

Antonio, Eberhard’s roommate, is a Pinzón Galápagos Tortoise, whose origin makes him one of the rarest animals in Prague Zoo. Pinzón Galápagos Tortoises were pushed to the brink of extinction in the wild and exist today only because of their longevity. This is because on Pinzón, a Galápagos island approximately the size of Prague Old Town, both their eggs and hatchlings were killed so effectively by non-indigenous animals that the tortoises practically stopped breeding. For decades, only adult individuals survived as they were big enough to scare off rats, cats and pigs. The situation took a positive turn only a few years ago thanks to protection and some radical measures including eradicating rats on the island.

Antonio came to Prague Zoo from Cologne in September 1995, already with his distinctive feature: a missing left nostril, which is probably the result of a fight with another male tortoise. Antonio is the only tortoise of its kind in Europe and has a saddleback shell typical for Pinzón tortoises. This is because they are not able to graze on the island, so instead, thanks to their pear-shaped saddleback shells and long giraffe-like necks, they stretch their necks to lift their heads high and feed on the fresh parts of succulent plants and shrubs.

The lack of food in his natural environment is also demonstrated by his weight of only 72-74 kilos, which is in sharp contrast with Eberhard, who is three times heavier. However, unlike Eberhard, Antonio has the heart of a “tough guy” – he shows off all the time, gets into fights, he likes to tease and he has quite the swagger. When he loses a fight, he needs some time to recover, but as soon as he gets the chance, he starts playing up again. In the wild, male Galápagos tortoises often fight and as Eberhard is the only other Galápagos tortoise in the Pavilion of Big Tortoises, he used to be Antonio's frequent target – and usually he gave in. But a few years ago he realized that when he stands up he is taller than Tony and, most importantly, he is very strong, and now Tony can’t lord it over him anymore.

One could say, these days there is a truce between Antonio and Eberhard. They don’t get into fights anymore and they enjoy their weekend winter food side by side, feasting on napa cabbage, kale or hydroponically grown barley and wheat. It is of interest that the shape of Tony’s shell should not be hereditary, and that the two males, however different they are in appearance and weight, are genetically very close to each other.

Antonio and Eberhard – Galápagos Tortoises

 


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Meet the 24 most interesting animal inhabitants of Prague Zoo – personalities that you may know from zoo 2010–2012 posters!