Two Giant Galapagos tortoises have hatched here at Crocodiles of the World which is the first successful breeding of this endangered species at a UK Zoo.
The Giant Galapagos tortoises, who are the largest living tortoise species in the world, hatched this month weighing 67g and 69g, which is around the same weight as a kiwi fruit. Keepers are closely monitoring their progress and feeding them a diet of dried grasses, leafy greens, pear cactus and weeds.
Shaun Foggett, Crocodiles of the World Founder said, “We’re incredibly proud to have successfully bred these tortoises, who have previously been very close to extinction. They are still facing an uncertain future, primarily due to historic over exploitation and egg predation from invasive species. We have all been hoping for this day since the Giant tortoises joined us in 2018 and it’s a significant achievement towards helping the conservation of the species.”
Crocodiles of the World in Oxfordshire is home to four adult Giant Galapagos tortoises, three females called Zuzu, Isabella and Charlie and one male, Dirk. He is the largest Galapagos tortoise in the UK and currently weighs an impressive 165kg, which is 25 stone. These gentle giants are part of a European conservation programme.
The tortoises joined the zoo four years ago from Chester Zoo and ZSL London and although they have been very amorous since their arrival with us, unfortunately no fertile eggs were laid in the first three years. Breeding Giant tortoises is not easy and only two other institutions in Europe have successfully bred the species. This means there is still a lot to learn and very little data and knowledge on the breeding and management of these tortoises, particularly within European zoological institutions. The reptile team at Crocodiles of the World have been incredibly dedicated to researching the care and ecology of these incredible animals.
Jamie Gilks, Head of Reptiles at Crocodiles of the World said, “To have a successful breeding with this iconic species really means a lot, not just to me personally but to everyone here at the zoo, especially after all the hard work our team have put in. Opening our incubator to see a cracked shell and feel the baby moving inside was indescribable, and a moment that will stay with everyone involved for a very long time.”
Crocodiles of the World also supports the Galapagos Conservation Trust, who are directly carrying out vital research to help shape future conservation strategies for the species and protect their future on the Galapagos Islands.
The baby Galapagos tortoises will be housed for visitors to see soon…will keep you updated.
Fascinating facts about Giant Galapagos tortoises: