CT’s Beardsley Zoo Welcomes Eight Spur-Thigh Tortoises

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo welcomes eight spur-thigh tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) who are making the Zoo their home for the summer. The African spur thigh tortoise, also known as the spurred tortoise, is the third largest species of tortoise in the world, after the Galapagos tortoise and the Aldabra giant tortoise. It is the largest of all mainland tortoises.

“Summertime is the right time, so it’s a great time to bring such special animals here as our temporary guests,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Tortoises also love summer heat, and the spur thigh tortoise is particularly well-adapted to hot temperatures. Also there is the educational message that these wonderful animals do not make good pets! Make wise not wild choices!”

“The Zoo will be home to the tortoises until sometime this fall,” added Dancho. “Guests can find them next to the Victorian Greenhouse.”

African spur thigh tortoises are large, and push and knock over heavy objects with ease. One of their unusual behaviors is that they may ram each other, with males especially ramming females. The force with which one tortoise rams another can be intimidating, given their strength. They are generally slow moving, however, in order to conserve energy. They dig burrows in the ground to take shelter from their harsh, hot habitat, with some tunnel systems extending ten or more feet underground. Adult tortoises average 18 inches in shell length and 70-100 pounds in weight. Specimens reaching two to three feet length and more than 150 pounds, however, are not uncommon.

They are able to go weeks without food. In the wild, they mainly eat grasses and leaves of desert scrub. They get the water they need from the plants they eat. African spur thigh tortoises’ conservation status is listed currently as vulnerable, due to habitat loss and over collection for the pet trade.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $15.00, children (ages 3 -11) is $12.00, senior admission (62 and older) is just $11.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge.

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo: About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo:

Spend the day a world away! Connecticut’s only zoo, celebrating its 96thanniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won’t want to miss our Amur (Siberian) tigers and tiger cubs, maned wolf family with three pups, Amur leopards, Brazilian ocelot, Mexican wolves, sloths, and Golden Lion tamarins. Other highlights include our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with “pop-up” viewing areas, the New England Farmyard with goats, cows, pigs, sheep, and other barnyard critters, plus the hoofstock trail featuring bison, pronghorn, deer, and more. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.com.

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