Gopher tortoise; photo by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works).
Official State Reptile of Georgia
Georgia designated the endangered gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as the official state reptile in 1989. All State Reptiles
Native to Georgia, the gopher tortoise population is declining and studies indicate that it may not even exist outside of protected areas. Help preserve this unique, ancient creature - if you find a tortoise on the road, stop your vehicle and gently place it off the road in the direction it is traveling (otherwise do not disturb it).
WHEREAS, the gopher tortoise (gopherus polyphemus) belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago, thus making it one of the oldest living species native to Georgia; and
WHEREAS, the gopher tortoise population is scattered throughout the southeastern United States, with most being found in southern Georgia and north central Florida; and
WHEREAS, the gopher tortoise benefits the ecology by digging burrows up to 40 feet long and 10 feet deep which provides year-round shelter from predators and weather for more than three dozen other animal species, including some threatened species; and
WHEREAS, recent studies indicate that the gopher tortoise population is in decline due to mankind’s activities, and that by the year 2000 the gopher tortoise may not exist outside of protected areas; and
WHEREAS, this ancient and ecologically beneficial reptile is deserving of the attention and appreciation of the citizens of this state by designation as the official state reptile.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
... The gopher tortoise is designated as the official Georgia state reptile.