Galápagos tortoises are known as the world’s largest tortoises. Males and females can reach up to 250kg and 150kg respectively. However, this species has been listed as threatened due to the loss of habitat and over-exploitation for food.
Many zoos and organizations have been working hard together to protect this species. The Auckland zoo is an enthusiastic participant in this project. Recently, luck smiles upon them.
The zoo has welcomed the arrival of four rare baby Galápagos tortoises at the beginning of this year. They were hatched in a climate-controlled incubator and came to this world safely and healthily.
The heaviest baby weighs 88 grams. It is really worth celebrating!
The four hatchlings are a cluster of 13 eggs that their mom, Chippie laid in October last year.
Their arrival is not only the great effort of the Auckland zoo but also the tremendous support of the Galápagos Conservancy and the Charles Darwin Foundation.
The newborns are temporarily off the display to the public. They are being nursed in a miniature habitat that has fresh grassy bed areas and an outdoor area. These are all provided with varying terrain for the hatchlings to climb. The zoo’s staff wants them to gain enough vitamin D3 in the daytime and feel safe at night.
They treat the tiny tortoises with chopped hay, leaves, and flowers. According to Don McFarlane, Auckland Zoo’s Ectotherms team leader, these hatchlings prefer colorful sweet foods like bright hibiscus flowers and grated carrot. So they mix these foods with hay to stimulate the tortoise’s appetite.
When they grow stronger and in excellent health, they will be sent back to the Galápagos tortoise house to join their parents.