African Tortoise Hatches at Zoo

Rolling Hills Zoo’s first African pancake tortoise offspring has hatched.

According to the zoo, this marks a significant milestone in the conservation efforts of this species, while also underscoring the successful breeding efforts and commitment to wildlife preservation at Rolling Hills Zoo.

Known for their unique flat shells and gentle demeanor, Denny and Syrup, the zoo’s beloved pair of African pancake tortoises, welcomed their first hatchling this week weighing 17 grams. It will take approximately six years for the hatchling to reach adulthood.

The egg, laid and buried under the sand by Syrup, remained in the pancake tortoises’ enclosure during incubation. Pancake tortoises, have a reproductive capacity of up to five eggs per year, and a normal incubation period ranging from 99 to 137 days.

While in the early stages of development, the hatchling will receive specialized care to ensure its health and well-being, shared Brenda Gunder, Rolling Hills Zoo Curator. Maintaining optimal humidity levels and providing daily soaks are essential for the proper hardening of its shell.

Visitors can observe the young tortoise on exhibit in a separate container inside the enclosure, allowing for close monitoring and care by the zookeepers. The hatchling can be found in this designated area except during routine maintenance or health check-ups.

“It’s important to remember the long-term commitment required in caring for these remarkable creatures,” emphasizes Gunder. “African pancake tortoises can live for several decades, with some reaching ages of 35 to 50 years.”

In the wild, African pancake tortoises are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Their biggest threats are habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade. Slash-and-burn shifting cultivation for agriculture along with charcoal burning has also decreased the amount of suitable habitat for African pancake tortoises. Breeding programs are now in place to prevent wild caught pancake tortoises from entering the pet trade.

Rolling Hills Zoo continues its dedication to wildlife conservation and education, fostering a deeper appreciation for the world’s diverse species.



Photos courtesy Rolling Hills Zoo