Giant tortoise breeds for first time in 35 years

August 13, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Talk about a slow mover …

A giant male tortoise which has failed to breed in 35 YEARS is facing some big competition – after zookeepers introduced a 27 stone love rival into his enclosure.

Lovelorn Biggie the 27.6 stone (175Kg) Aldabra tortoise has failed to take a shine to any of the females he has been introduced to over three decades.

But keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens are hoping some healthy competition may kick-start his libido and have drafted in 27.1st (172kg) young stud Hogarth – whose shell is a staggering one metre tall.

Biggie, who is aged around 70, has also been joined by two new females Hissy and Stevie – both around 25 years old – which staff hope may catch his eye.

He already lives with three other females, Helen, 27, Twiggy, 80, and Matilda, 15, all of whom he has romantically snubbed.

Tim Skelton, curator of reptiles at Bristol Zoo Gardens, has worked with the giant tortoises for 11 years.

He said: ”When it comes to tortoises, nothing happens very quickly, and Biggie has certainly been taking his time when it comes to breeding.

”He has been here for 35 years but hasn’t taken much interest in the females that have been here during that time.

”We are hoping that the arrival of another male, as well as two new females, might motivate him into action.”

Biggie has been at Bristol Zoo since 1975 after being donated by Bristol University.

Despite being aged over 70, time is still on his side as giant tortoises can live to be more than 150.

Tim added: ”The arrival of three new giant tortoises is a great addition to our collection.

”We needed to increase the group size in order to stimulate breeding behaviour in the herd as part of a co-ordinated captive breeding programme for this vulnerable species.”

Hogarth, Hissy and Stevie are on a breeding loan from wildlife expert, Nigel Marven, who presented ITV’s Prehistoric Park.

Nigel said:. ”My wife Gill, former HTV presenter, our two-year-old daughter Ella and I are already missing the tortoises terribly, but it will be worth it for the patter of tiny claws.”

”Of course we’ll be visiting them at the Zoo whenever we can.”

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