Newswise — Bronx, NY – Aug. 14, 2014 – Two giant Aldabra tortoises (Geochelone gigantean) are now grazing outside Zoo Center at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo.
Both tortoises are males; one weighs approximately 400 pounds and the other tips the scales at around 600 pounds.
Their exhibit is located at the iconic Zoo Center and resembles their natural habitat with a sandy substrate, lush vegetation, and a freshwater pool.
Besides their impressive size, Aldabra tortoises are thought to live 200 years or more. They have a large domed shell (or carapace), thick limbs that are covered in bony scales, and a long muscular neck. They are terrestrial but can swim. They will enter shallow fresh water and occasionally the ocean to aid temperature regulation.
Aldabra tortoises are one of only two remaining species of giant tortoises; the other being the Galapagos tortoise. Aldabras are native the Aldabra atoll in the Republic of Seychelles and have been introduced to several other islands in the western Indian Ocean.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies giant Aldabra tortoises as Vulnerable, with populations in decline. Estimates indicate there are approximately 100,000 animals remaining in the wild.
The Wildlife Conservation Society works to save turtles and tortoises around the world. In 2012, WCS launched an organization-wide program to revive some of the most endangered turtle and tortoise species. Efforts include breeding programs at WCS’s zoos in New York, head start programs abroad, and working with governments and communities to save species on the brink of extinction.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, 5:30 p.m. weekends from April to October; 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m November to March. Adult admission is $16.95, children (3-12 years old) $12.95, children under 3 are free, seniors (65+) are $14.95. Parking is $15 for cars and $18 for buses. The Bronx Zoo is conveniently located off the Bronx River Parkway at Exit 6; by train via the #2 or #5 or by bus via the #9, #12, #19, #22, MetroNorth, or BxM11 Express Bus service (from Manhattan that stops just outside the gate.) To plan your trip, visit bronxzoo.com or call 718-367-1010. Follow @TheBronxZoo.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.