Two rare tortoises have hatched in Oxfordshire in the first successful breeding of this endangered species at a UK Zoo.  

The Giant Galapagos tortoises, hatched this month at The Crocodiles of the World Foundation in Brize Norton where keepers are closing monitoring their progress. 

Crocodiles of the World Founder Shaun Foggett said that the zoo has been hoping for this day since it became home to four giant tortoises in 2018.

He said: “We’re incredibly proud to have successfully bred these tortoises, who have previously been very close to extinction.  

"They are still facing an uncertain future, primarily due to historic overexploitation and egg predation from invasive species."

Witney Gazette: Baby Giant Galapagos tortoises hatched at Crocodiles Of The World Oxfordshire. Credit: BNPS Baby Giant Galapagos tortoises hatched at Crocodiles Of The World Oxfordshire. Credit: BNPS

The zoo already has three adult females called Zuzu, Isabella and Charlie and one male, Dirk.

Dirk is the largest Galapagos tortoise in the UK and currently weighs 165kg.

The tortoises are part of a European conservation programme, and joined from Chester Zoo and ZSL London.

Unfortunately, no fertile eggs were laid in the first three years of the tortoises being in their new home, despite them being described as 'very amorous'.

Witney Gazette: The babies hatched this month weighing 67g and 69g.The babies hatched this month weighing 67g and 69g.

Only two other institutions in Europe have successfully bred the species, as it is very difficult.   

Head of Reptiles at Crocodiles of the World Jamie Gilks said: “To have a successful breeding with this iconic species really means a lot, not just to me personally but to everyone here at the zoo, especially after all the hard work our team have put in.

"Opening our incubator to see a cracked shell and feel the baby moving inside was indescribable, and a moment that will stay with everyone involved for a very long time.” 

The babies hatched 113 & 118 days after the eggs were laid and weighed 67g and 69g, which is around the same weight as a kiwi fruit.

The Giant Galapagos tortoise is the largest tortoise species in the world and among the longest-lived vertebrates.

Crocodiles of the World also supports the Galapagos Conservation Trust, who carry out research for conservation.

The giant tortoises are a vital part of the Galapagos Islands, as they spread seeds and help to shape the landscape, allowing other species to thrive. 

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