First births of African spurred tortoises at the zoo!

In less than a week, 9 African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) were born at La Palmyre Zoo! This is a first for the zoo that had never bred this species before.
 
The fertilized eggs were put in an incubator in September 2015 and hatched after an eight-month incubation period.


 
The African spurred tortoise is the largest tortoise of Africa. Males can reach 100kg. Listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species, it was once widely distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Today, only few isolated residual populations remain from Senegal to Ethiopia and Eritrea, threatened by illegal trade, bushfires, growing urbanization and overgrazing depleting their natural habitat.
 
Well-adapted to desert and arid areas, the African spurred tortoise (also called grooved tortoise), can dig long burrows (up to 15 meters) where it stays during warm hours and dry season. Herbivorous, it can sometimes eat dead animals by opportunism.
 
Regarded as aggressive, particularly during the breeding season, it may violently ram into each other, attempting to flip one another over.
 
Until they reach a sufficient size to be presented in the vivarium of the zoo, the small tortoises can be seen in a terrarium behind the windows of the nursery.