New Kids In Town

The rarest tortoise in the world. Possibly fewer than 400 left in the wild. It’s hard to wrap my brain around it. The incredible thing is that I now have the opportunity to wrap my hands around them. My zoo made international news last week with the announcement that they are the recipients of four of eight Astrochelys yniphora (ploughshare tortoises)  confiscated last year.

Here you can see the very unique dome-shaped shell.


The ploughshare tortoise is endemic to the island of Madagascar, as are many of the tortoises our zoo is already successful with. They’re from the northwestern corner of the country, and are rapidly disappearing due to poaching for food and for the pet trade.

The coloration really melts my butter

They look enormous, don’t they? They’re not. While they will one day top 100lbs, these particular animals weigh half a pound or less.

Look at that face! THAT FACE!

They possess a unique body shape. Their carapace (top shell) has a cartoonish roundness that I find endearing. With proper humidity and diet, the shell should remain like this. The common name comes from a weird protrusion on the front of males. It’s used to flip rival males over during battles over females. Amazing video here.  Whether the youngsters we have are males are females is unknown at this point. It will be at least 10 years before they are old enough to breed. Working with tortoises usually means thinking in the long-term.

I think this one might be my favorite of the four, which by default makes it my favorite tortoise in the entire universe

Welcome to my corner of the world, little friends. I have high hopes for you!

27 thoughts on “New Kids In Town

  1. They’re so cute! I dig the coloration too, very cool. That’s so awesome that you zoo was able to take in 4 of them. And the shell? Yeah, it’s pretty adorable…

  2. I have to ask….How old are they?

    You mentioned proper diet and humidity. Did I miss it? What is their natural habitat, before we obviously either hunted them to near extinction or ruined it? What do they eat?

    They are awesome, by the way.

  3. That is amazing. It is always a bitter sweet thing to be able to gaze upon the last few of something. The San Diego Safari Park has one of the last white Rhinos in the world. The ones left are all too old to mate. It is amazing to see it, but sad that many others won’t. Keep up the good work!

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

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