Huge Galapagos Tortoise Mom Gives Birth to Itty-Bitty Baby Tortoises at Zurich Zoo

June 25, 2019 Updated: July 2, 2019

These adorable baby pictures are the beginnings of a journey that could last 200 years.

These tiny Galapagos tortoise hatchlings were born to their 80-year-old mother Nigrita at their home in Zurich Zoo in Switzerland. She can be seen here looking after one of her itty-bitty babies in this photo.

Schildkrötennachwuchs: Im Zoo Zürich sind neun junge Galapagos-Riesenschildkröten geschlüpft. Sie sind nur wenige…

Zoo Zürich စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၆၊ မေ ၉၊ တနင်္လာနေ့

As you can see, these shelled animals, which start out small, can get pretty massive in size. This giant momma weighs a hefty 220 pounds (approx. 100 kg), while female Galapagos tortoises like Nigrita can weigh as much 400 pounds (approx. 181 kg), The Dodo reported. She’s still growing, though. By comparison, each of her babies weighed only between 4 and 5 ounces (approx. 114 and 142 g).

Nigrita’s mate Jumbo, a strapping young lad of 54 years of age, weighs an incredible 400 pounds. Of course, males can get much bigger than that, with some tipping the scales at 700 pounds (approx. 318 kg). Meanwhile, there have been some specimens that were over 900 pounds (approx. 408 kg), as per Guinness.

Zookeepers have to be careful not to feed them “too well,” NBC reported, as that can cause harmful growth spurts.

Schildkrötennachwuchs: Im Zoo Zürich sind neun junge Galapagos-Riesenschildkröten geschlüpft. Sie sind nur wenige…

Zoo Zürich စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၆၊ မေ ၉၊ တနင်္လာနေ့

Schildkrötennachwuchs: Im Zoo Zürich sind neun junge Galapagos-Riesenschildkröten geschlüpft. Sie sind nur wenige…

Zoo Zürich စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၆၊ မေ ၉၊ တနင်္လာနေ့

The nine hatchlings were part of the Swiss zoo’s breeding program, which endeavors to save the endangered Galapagos tortoise from potential extinction.

Their 80-year-old mother is currently the oldest animal at the zoo. She first arrived there way back in 1946, and she laid her first eggs in 1980, although none of those first hatchlings survived.  Zoo keepers dug up this latest batch (in 2016) and placed them in temperature-controlled incubators. They hatched over the course of two months.

Zurich Zoo is the only zoo in Europe that has successfully bred Galapagos tortoises in captivity, according to NBC.

Schildkrötennachwuchs: Im Zoo Zürich sind neun junge Galapagos-Riesenschildkröten geschlüpft. Sie sind nur wenige…

Zoo Zürich စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၆၊ မေ ၉၊ တနင်္လာနေ့

Galapagos-Riesenschildkröte (Geochelone nigra): Grössenvergleich Jumbo mit Jungtier.Bild: Zoo Zürich, Jean-Luc Grossmann

Zoo Zürich စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၄၊ ဒီဇင်ဘာ ၁၆၊ အင်္ဂါနေ့

As Galapagos tortoises can live for as long as 200 years, they are one of the longest-living animals on Earth.

These baby pictures could be just the start of an epic journey for these living artifacts. Hopefully, they still have centuries ahead of them to look forward to.

Galapagos Tortoise Shells

Zoo Zürich စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၈၊ မေ ၂၃၊ ဗုဒ္ဓဟူးနေ့

There are two different types of Galapagos tortoise. There is a larger kind, like Nigrita, which has a big, “dome” shell, and a smaller kind that has a shell curled up at the front end, hence their name “saddlebacks.”

The massive animals are incredibly heavy, but the structure of their shells is not solid; the shell comprises honeycomb structures that hold air, easing the burden for the tortoise. The tortoise’s ribs are also embedded into the shell, so obviously, that means they cannot leave their shell.

When threatened, they pull themselves inside, letting out a hiss of air, which is simply the tortoise deflating its lungs.

©Flickr | Chad Sparkes

Male Tortoise Fighting and Diet

During mating, competition between males can lead to conflicts. The way they fight is by lifting their heads as high as they can go. And whoever can raise his head the highest wins. The loser then retreats into his shell—a very civil way of battling for mates!

Galapagos tortoises are herbivories that love fruits, certain types of cacti, flowers, leaves, and grass. Yet, they can last for as long as a year without eating or drinking because of how well they store water and food.

Source: San Diego Zoo

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