Madagascar flat-tailed tortoise hatchling. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
The Oklahoma City Zoo welcomed a Madagascar flat-tailed tortoise hatching last week. Although the baby turtle will not be on display at the zoo, the birth marks a significant step in preserving a critically endangered species.
In the wild, Madagascar flat-tailed tortoises inhabit the closed-canopy, dry forests of Madagascar. They are highly threatened by habitat loss, due to agricultural and highway development, mining, and petroleum exploration.
The turtle birth was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan. For more information, see The Oklahoman.
Although she is over a hundred years old, Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens resident Alberta didn’t let her age stop her from motherhood. Alberta, a Santa Cruz Galapagos tortoise, hid her eggs and nest from keepers for months while they incubated. On Thursday, the zookeepers made a surprising discovery of four hatchlings in a buried nest. A fifth baby was later found wandering around the exhibit.
The babies are currently small enough to fit into the palm of your hand. But Galapagos tortoises can reach 400 kg (880 lb.) in their long lifetime.
Galapagos tortoises are the largest species of tortoise. In the wild, they inhabit the Galapagos Islands, which are located 1,000 km (620 mi) west of Ecuador. They are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Redlist.
Many of you may be familiar with the story of Christian the lion, a YouTube sensation (and if you’re not, you really should see it). This Saturday, September 26 at 8pm ET/PT, the National Geographic Channel is showcasing several heartwarming stories about animal bonds, including the tale of Christian the lion, in its program, Unlikely Animal Friends.
The one-hour special will also feature an orangutan and a hound dog, a tortoise and a hippo, a cat and a crow, an elephant and a dog, and more.