A Huge Melbourne Zoo Welcome For Some Little Giants

01 November 2021

A gorgeous group of little giants is settling into their new home at Melbourne Zoo, where they will likely reside for the next 100 years!

The six young Aldabra Giant Tortoises are sharing the Zoo's Growing Wild precinct with a much older, and much
larger, female Giant Tortoise named Jean.

The new arrivals are all around nine years old and weigh between 20-30 kilograms – much smaller than what they
will eventually grow to. All have come from a nature park in Mauritius.

They completed their quarantine at Melbourne Zoo just in time for a sunny spring day, and their favourite flower
treats encouraged all six to voluntarily make their own way onto the green grass of their new home.

The young tortoises are dwarfed by their new housemate Jean, who is about 80 years old and weighs 95 kilograms.
Two other male Aldabra Giant Tortoises who live in another area of Melbourne Zoo are estimated to be up to 110
years old and weigh about 200 kilograms.

Melbourne Zoo Ectotherms keeper Raelene Hobbs says everybody is thrilled with how the little tortoises are settling
in.

"This is probably, for me, one of the top five moments in my 16 years here at the Zoo. Just being able to see little
tortoises is amazing. We have become so used to looking after older animals, so watching younger tortoise behaviour
and learning about little tortoise behaviour is something most of us have never been able to do," Ms Hobbs said.

"Watching them grow and be happy and healthy is the number one thing for us right now. These little ones have got
a lot of growing to do!

"We lucked out on a beautiful day to move them, so we were able to allow them the choice to exit their quarantine
facility and walk to their new home. We used a lot of their favourite treats, like flowers, and they did a great job.
They all walked the whole entire way.

"It has been amazing watching Jean react to the little tortoises. She has come over and is wanting to interact with
them and smell them and figure out what is going on. So that has been really great."

Aldabra Giant Tortoises are one of a few surviving species of Giant Tortoise left in the wild and have been estimated
to live up to 200 years. The species is classified as Vulnerable in the wild by the International Union for Conservation
of Nature, after suffering the effects of poaching and habitat destruction.