Jul 11

Help Us Name Aquatica Orlando's New African Spurred Tortoise

We have a new animal addition at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, in Orlando -- African spurred tortoises!

Two tortoises are now calling our waterpark home, so next time you visit be sure to stop by and welcome them to their new habitat. Motu (left) is the male tortoise, and the female tortoise is the larger of the two (right). But, we have an added surprise!

The female tortoise doesn’t have a name yet – and that’s where you, our fans, come in. If you haven’t already, “like” the Aquatica Facebook page at Facebook.com/AquaticaOrlando and starting tomorrow, you’ll be able to vote for her name. The name options and their Maori meanings are:

Name Maori meaning

  • Humarie “peaceful”
  • Hunu “sun ray”
  • Nui “large, big”
  • Mahana “warm”
  • Kirikiri “sand”
  • Toka “rock”

The name with the most votes wins, and we’ll share her new name next week. In the meantime, we asked our Aquarium specialists to provide us with a little bit of tortoise insight to help you get to know her before selecting a name.

According to those who care for her on a daily basis, "the female tortoise is the more curious and adventurous of the two. She’s always the first to explore new areas and dig new holes… Her favorite colors are yellow and red, because some of her favorite foods are these colors, like red and yellow hibiscus flowers. She’s usually the first to the food dish in the morning.”

“And she’s somewhat like a teenager because when we check on her in the morning, it takes a while to wake her up and get a response. But if she knows there’s breakfast on the table, she makes a mad dash for the food…but in tortoise time, that's about 10 minutes later. She beats the heat by using her back legs to toss damp sand on her back.”

Interested in more tortoise traits? Here are some interesting facts about the species to keep in mind when you meet her and Motu in person at Aquatica in Orlando!

- Adult African spurred tortoises may reach 24-36” in carapace length and from 80-150 lbs or greater.

- They have thick yellow-brown skin with large overlapping scales on the front legs and spurs on the rear legs.

- The African Spurred tortoise is found along the southern border of the Sahara in Northern Africa, so these animals are adapted to survive in hot, arid climates.

- African Spurred tortoises are the third largest tortoise species in the world, after Galapagos and Aldabran species.

- Much like Florida’s native Gopher tortoise, the African Spurred tortoise digs a large burrow to avoid the heat as well as predators. Their burrows become home to many other wild creatures.

Don’t forget to visit Facebook.com/AquaticaOrlando to submit your vote for our new tortoise’s name! And plan a visit soon to escape from the summer heat and cool off at Aquatica PLUS meet the new tortoises!