HiStOrY | CoOl FaCtS | NeAt
Reptile: Desert Tortoise
Under a full head of steam, the desert tortoise (gopherus agassizi)
moves at a stolid pace of about 20 feet per minute. This patient
vegetarian has existed on Earth almost unchanged for millions of
years. It is found in the southwestern desert areas of California
where it now enjoys protected status as an endangered species. The
desert tortoise played a key role in the passage of the California
Desert Protection Act in 1994. To protect the fragile desert habitat
of the tortoise and other plants and animals, millions of acres were
added to the national park and wilderness system. Supporters reportedly
brought a desert tortoise to the White House for the bill signing.
The tortoise has been the official State Reptile since 1972.