70-Year-Old Tortoise Shocks Zookeepers

A giant tortoise has shocked zookeepers after fathering eight babies at the age of 70.

Virile reptile Dirk, named after the porn star Dirk Diggler from the film ‘Boogie Nights’, has been ‘at it’ most of the year with three females he shares a pen with.

In March it was revealed that two baby tortoises had hatched from eggs laid by 21-year-old female Charlie at Crocodiles of the World in Oxfordshire.

That was the first time a British zoo had successfully bred a Giant Galapagos tortoise.

After Dirk mated with female Isabella, who laid four eggs which hatched in July, Charlie, then laid two more eggs fertilized by Dirk and these have recently hatched.

But Dirk, who is said to be in peak physical condition, appears to have no wish to take things easy and is apparently ready to mate with female Zuzu.

The arrival of the eight babies at Crocodiles of the World in Brize Norton is a huge boost to the conservation status of the giant Galapagos tortoise which is an endangered species.

There are now about 15,000 individuals left in the world compared to 200,000 in the 19th century.

Dirk’s strong performance now holds him up as probably the most important male in Europe.

Shaun Foggett, founder and director at Crocodiles of the World, said: “The first two hatchlings were Charlie’s back in March, then we hatched four from Isabella in July, and we’ve just had another two from Charlie’s eggs.

“There has been nothing from Zuzu yet, but they have only started laying eggs in the last 18 months.”

“We’re fairly sure they are all female, but this is not confirmed yet.”

“In order to monitor their growth and general well-being the babies are kept separate to the adult tortoises.”

“It is a big deal in that for a decade or more, just one collection of giant Galapagos tortoises in Europe were able to breed the species. It certainly shows that Dirk is a potentially very important tortoise within European zoos.”

“The biggest boost right now is the fact that the knowledge we are able to gain and share from the incubation of the eggs to the raising of the young.”

“This will provide more experience and knowledge on the whole process of breeding the species in a zoo setting.”

Dirk with his eight babies and zoo keepers

Original Article

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