'Turtle Canyon' coming to Newport Aquarium

Denver the turtle. Provided by Newport Aquarium
Denver the turtle. Provided by Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - A new turtle exhibit is coming to the Newport Aquarium.

Opening March 22, Turtle Canyon will feature more than 14 species spanning three continents. From the largest tortoise species in the world -- the Galapagos tortoise -- to the smallest tortoise species in the Northern Hemisphere -- the Egyptian tortoise.

Following a renovation of the rain forest exhibit, Turtle Canyon will allow guests to view turtles up close from multiple angles.

The new exhibit will include a turtle corral which offers guests the opportunity to touch a variety of turtles including one of North America's largest tortoise species -- the Gopher tortoise.

Two massive turtles are set to anchor the exhibits inside Turtle Canyon, giving Newport Aquarium a total of three of the largest turtle species in the world.

They are:

* Bravo – a more than 600-pound, 84-year-old Galapagos tortoise and the largest turtle in the Midwest.  Hatched April 19, 1929 on the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz, Bravo arrived at the United States as part of the last group of tortoises exported from the Galapagos Islands. Not only is he big, Bravo is athletic and known for climbing rocks to reach food.

* A 118-pound alligator snapping turtle named Thunder will make his new digs at Turtle Canyon. Believed to be more than 100 years of age, Thunder is the oldest resident at Newport Aquarium.

* Newport Aquarium mainstay Denver, a 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle with a three-foot-long shell, will continue to roam the waters of the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

* The newest member of the aquarium's turtle family is a sixth-month-old, 1.9-pound loggerhead who was put on display at the Shore Gallery exhibit on Tuesday. After hatching in August at Emerald Isle, N.C., this female loggerhead has been fostered by the Newport Aquarium husbandry staff since late October. Her journey of survival has been documented on Newport Aquarium's official blog, aquariumworks.org.

Fans can help name this young loggerhead by voting on Newport Aquarium's Facebook page. Voting began Tuesday and runs through Feb. 24.

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