Wildlife park’s new arrivals make surprise appearance

Witney Gazette: Cotswold Wildlife Park reptile keeper Shane Belson with the four tiny Red-Footed Tortoises Cotswold Wildlife Park reptile keeper Shane Belson with the four tiny Red-Footed Tortoises

REPTILE keepers have had a welcome surprise with the arrival of four baby tortoises.

The Cotswold Wildlife Park had been trying to breed the Red-Footed Tortoises, which are less than two inches long and weigh about 30gms, for six years.

To their surprise, the eggs were found in an enclosure that had been emptied for maintenance work. Keepers now think the tortoises’ parents must have laid and hidden the eggs before they were moved to another area for breeding.

Park curator Jamie Craig said: “Normally eggs won’t develop unless removed to an incubator as conditions for hatching need to be perfect and this is difficult when eggs are deposited in the gravel.

“However, all the youngsters are doing very well and are completely unaware of the drama their arrival created.”

The South American tortoises had not been bred at the park since 2003.

But they will now eventually grow to 15ins long and could live to up to 50 years.

Reptile keeper Shane Belson said: “We had been trying to breed them for the past six years with no luck — it was a lovely surprise.”

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