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It’s Sam the Giant Galapagos Tortoise’s Birthday and You Can Win a Present

Guess Sam the Giant Galapagos Tortoise’s weight and win a Botanic Garden prize package including an annual Family Membership, a signed copy of Sam’s story “Too Big To Lose” and  a private meeting (for up to 10 people) with Sam

Encinitas CA— San Diego Botanic Garden’s Giant Galapagos Tortoise turns 53 this spring and we’re celebrating the Big Event by giving up to 3 lucky folks an opportunity to win a Botanic Garden prize package including a private meeting with Sam!

From Wednesday, March 1st – Tuesday, March 22nd we’re inviting residents of San Diego, Orange and Riverside County to email their guess on how much Sam weighs to  If visitors would like to get an up-close-and-personal view of Sam before submitting their entry, they can see Sam at the Garden’s Spring Planting Jubilee from 10 am – 2 pm on Saturday, March 18 & Sunday, March 19.

The rules of the contest are simple:

Email your name, address, phone number to

Place your guess on how much Sam weighs into the SUBJECT LINE of the email. Any guesses not placed into the SUBJECT LINE will not be considered. One entry per household.

Spring Planting Jubilee & Tomato Sale visitors on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 will have an opportunity to submit a guess in person at the event at the Garden. NO other printed entry forms will be considered.

San Diego Botanic Garden staff members, volunteers and docents will have their own separate contest with their own prize packages and will not participate in the general contest.

Contest winners will be notified by email or phone the week of April 3, 2017.

Sam will be weighed on a special Scale that the San Diego Zoo is generously loaning to the Garden for Sam’s birthday ‘weigh in.’  According to Julian Duval, San Diego Botanic Garden’s President & CEO, knowing how many pounds Sam weighs is important for several reasons.

“While Galapagos Tortoises can live well over 100 years, like all animals including humans, their health will have an impact on their longevity,” said Julian. “Weight, as we all know, is an important reflection of nutritional health and at this time it looks like Sam should lose a few pounds. That’s why we have Sam on a paleo diet and plan to monitor his weight in the future.”

Sam was ‘hatched’ in the Spring of 1964. He became part of the Duval family 2 years later when Julian presented him to his sister, Therese, as a gift for her 7th birthday. When Sam grew too big to be kept in the family home in Chicago, Sam found a new home in California. Years later, after losing touch with the Duval family for more than 40 years, Sam was reunited with Julian and came to live at the Garden.

This heartwarming story of love, loss and the serendipitous reunion of friends is what the Moonbeam Award-winning book, “Too Big To Lose,” is all about. Penned by Leslie Duval, wife of Julian for over 25 years, the book includes remarkable oil paintings by Ruth Todd Evans, a San Diego-based author/illustrator. Proceeds from this charming story are donated to the San Diego Botanic Garden by the book’s Author, Illustrator and Designer in order to care for Sam, who could live another 100 years!

“The day I met Sam my life was changed forever,” said Leslie. “I was driven to share his story and am pleased that we are able to share Sam with the Public at this very special event.”

Individuals who are interested in learning more about Sam, the Garden’s Giant Galapagos Tortoise, are invited to visit the website at You can also follow Sam on his Facebook page: Too Big To Lose.