Galapagos giant tortoises are born for the first time in a British zoo

BNPS

Dirk, who is 70, fathered the two giant Galapagos tortoises at Crocodiles of the World in Oxfordshire

A UK zoo has welcomed the arrival of two baby Galapagos giant tortoises for the first time.

The newborns were born at Crocodiles of the World in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire last month.

They were sired by Dirk, 70, who first arrived in the UK in the 1960s.

They are currently the size of tennis balls, but will weigh around 30 stone when fully grown.

Galapagos giant tortoises are listed as endangered animals and are near extinction.

There are about 15,000 in the world, compared to 200,000 in the 19th century.

Tortoises can live for over 100 years and are best known for their very long necks.

Shaun Foggett, the Galapagos Giant Tortoises and Jamie GilksBNPS

Shaun Foggett (left), the founder of Crocodiles of the World, with Dirk, newcomers and Jamie Gilks, the attraction’s reptile manager

They are also related to the scientist Charles Darwin, who proposed the theory of evolution by studying them.

Crocodiles of the World already has four adult Galapagos giants in its zoo called Zuzu, Isabella, Charlie and Dirk.

Keepers closely monitor the turtles’ progress and feed them dried grasses, leafy greens, pears and weeds.

Shaun Foggett, founder of Crocodiles of the World, said: “We are incredibly proud to have succeeded in raising these turtles, which were once very close to extinction.

“We’ve all been hoping for this day since the giant tortoises joined us in 2018 and it’s a significant achievement to help with the conservation of the species.”

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