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Bristol Zoo Gardens has a new giant tortoise – just in time for Christmas.
Mike has joined the Zoo’s other tortoises Helen, Twiggy and Biggie who is more than 80-years-old.
He is a 20-year-old Aldabra giant tortoise and weighs 83 kg (13 stones).
Tim Skelton, curator of reptiles and amphibians at Bristol Zoo, said: “ He’s a great character and he immediately settled in with the rest of the group.”
Aldabra tortoises can live to more than 100 years old and can weigh more than 250 kg (39 stones).
They are so big that they cannot withdraw their heads and legs completely into their shells. But on the islands where they evolved they did not need to use their shells as protection as they were no predators.
They get their name from Aldabran Atoll off the cost of the Seychelles and live off tropical grassland. In the wild they begin feeding early in the morning when it is cooler and when the dew is thick on the grass.
Giant tortoises were found on all islands in the western Indian Ocean until Mauritius was colonised in the 1600s and an increasing number of settlers and explorers visited the Seychelles removing and killing tortoises.
Today the Aldabra tortoise is classified as vulnerable.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
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