90-year-old tortoise named Mr. Pickles becomes a father of three with his 53-year-old partner
‘It’s a big dill’: 90-year-old tortoise named Mr. Pickles becomes a father of three with his 53-year-old partner
A 90-year-old tortoise named Mr Pickles proves it is never too late to be a father.
The Houston Zoo announced he and 53-year-old Mrs Pickles welcomed three tortoise hatchlings named Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.
The three babies are a ‘big dill,’ according to the zoo’s Thursday announcement, because these are radiated tortoises critically endangered from the illegal pet trade.
Mr and Mrs Pickles have been a ‘couple’ since she first arrived at the zoo in 1996, but the first-time dad has been a resident for 36 years.
Mr Pickles (pictured) has become a new father to three hatchlings. He and Mrs Pickles have been a ‘couple’ since 1996
‘These little Pickles are a big deal (big dill?) for radiated tortoise genetic as their father, Mr. Pickles, is the most genetically valuable radiated tortoise in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan,’ according to the zoo’s announcement.
While Mr and Mrs Pickles have been together for decades, she only recently laid eggs once – and it was just by chance a herpetology keeper saw it happening at closing time.
And the lucky sighting likely saved the lives of the hatchlings.
The zoo explained Houston soil is not hospitable to the Madagascar native tortoises, and it is unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own.
The keeper quickly scooped up the eggs and brought them to the Reptile & Amphibian House.
Radiated tortoises were once considered one of the world’s most abundant tortoise species, with an estimated population in the millions.
This species is now ranked as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List due to the illegal pet trade stealing them from their natural habitats.
‘One of the most troubling trends is that poachers are now entering protected areas to collect tortoises and the staff there are poorly equipped to patrol and protect populations,’ said Wildlife Conservation Society in a 2010 statement.
The Houston Zoo announced the tortoises welcomed three tortoise hatchlings named Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño
The tree babies are a ‘big dill,’ according to the zoo’s Thursday announcement, because these are radiated tortoises critically endangered from the illegal pet trade
Along with poachers, the population has dwindled due to extreme drought and habitat degradation.
Turtle Survival Alliance president Rick Hudson said in a 2010 statement: ‘Radiated tortoises are truly under siege now as never before, and if we can’t draw a line in the sand around protected areas, then we will lose this species.
‘I can’t think of a tortoise species that has undergone a more rapid rate of decline in modern times, or a more drastic contraction in range, than the radiated tortoise. This is a crisis situation of the highest magnitude.’
And while the interview was given over a decade ago, the radiated tortoise is still threatened by the illegal pet trade.