NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While tortoises are turtles, not all turtles are tortoises. In this week’s Zoopalooza with Davis Nolan spent time at the Nashville Zoo with their giant tortoises.

“I take care of these guys, just make sure that they are happy and healthy and fed, and living life on to their hundreds of years,” said Katie Gregory, Nashville Zoo Herpetology Keeper.

Gregory mainly works with the reptiles and amphibians at the zoo. Nashville Zoo is home to five giant tortoises like Darwin. She is a Galapagos tortoise, which are extremely rare and almost extinct.

Gregory said Darwin likes to be scratched as Davis reached down to greet her.

“She likes the attention. This feels a lot like if a bird was coming up to get rid of all this dead skin off of her. We’re just kind of helping her out here, getting all of that dead flaky skin off of her. And she really is enjoying it,” Gregory said.

Nashville Zoo Galapagos giant tortoise, Darwin. (WKRN photo)

Darwin is from the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific off the coast of Ecuador. The other four tortoises are from the Ardabra Islands in the Indian Ocean.

While tortoises are turtles, what makes them different is that they live on the land, and the giant ones have higher domed shells.

“And, they have these club-like arms in the front and elephantine feet in the back, and that just kind of helps them stomp around on the land because most of the time you will find them on the land,” Gregory explained.

Nashville Zoo turtle
Nashville Zoo turtle (WKRN photo)

“Turtles are going to be a lot thinner. So, a little bit more kind of streamlined so they can swim and cruise through the water a lot easier. And they also have these really cool little webbed toes that helps them to swim through the water,” she continued.

Plus, tortoises have the bigger legs that help carry some weight.

“We’ve got two 99-year-olds, and they are about 80 lbs. or so. And then we’ve got two 13-year-olds, and they are closer to 120 to 130 lbs.” Gregory added. “And then Darwin, our big girl, she’s 30-years-old and she weighs 218 lbs. right now.”

The creatures can live over 100 years and can weigh up to 500 lbs.

You can find them at the Giant Tortoise Exhibit at the Critter Encounters area of the zoo.

Plus, they are now part of the zoo’s Backstage Pass program, which would allow you to come into the exhibit, meet them, pet them, and feed them.

For more information on the Backstage Pass, click this link.

News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on