MOVE over gorillas – there’s a new heaviest animal at Jersey Zoo…
Four Aldabra giant tortoises, which can live for over 150 years, are settling into their new purpose-built enclosure, named the ‘Tortoise Tunnel’.
The reptile quartet arrived from Bristol Zoo in November, but have been kept in quarantine until now.
One of these giant creatures – the appropriately named ‘Biggie’ – weighs in at more than 200kg, overtaking Badongo, the silverback gorilla, for the title of heaviest animal at the zoo.
Badongo weighs about 181 kilos.
It is also a homecoming for ‘Twiggy’, who returns to the Island after living here from 1965 to 1975, having been brought to Jersey by Gerald Durrell himself.
Jersey Zoo curator of herpetology and invertebrates Matt Goetz said: ‘We are really excited to have Aldabra tortoises back at Jersey Zoo.
‘Not only are they fascinating to look at and learn about, but they also play an important role in our conservation work around the world.’
Durrell have worked with the tortoises for over 20 years and have introduced them into two Islands in Mauritius called Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island.
There are now 800 Aldabra giant tortoises who are ‘free-roaming’ on Round Island.
Mr Goetz added: ‘We have been working with Aldabra tortoises for many years in our island restoration programme around Mauritius, helping to restore vital ecosystems that have been lost due to the extinction of native tortoises.
‘We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to our brand-new enclosure, so they can find out more about this impressive species.’
The zoo welcomed an aardvark from Colchester Zoo last year, with Tafari now sharing the ‘Discovery Desert’ exhibit with the meerkats. A herd of golden Guernsey goats also joined the zoo last year.