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Keeper Stories – Thursday, February 23

We in the Herpetology Department have a fun story to share with all of our Zoo Atlanta guests. On February 20, 2017, we welcomed a baby African pancake tortoise into our collection. I will go out on a limb and say that any hatchling reptile or amphibian is absolutely adorable, or maybe that is just me and every other herpetologist out there. We brag any chance we get about new additions, but what makes this story special is that our new baby tortoise hatched in our adult African pancake tortoise habitat in Scaly Slimy Spectacular. We were thrilled to find out that many guests were able to watch the entire hatching process and get pictures and videos to share with family and friends. For us keepers here at Zoo Atlanta, this is a complete win. Not only did the tortoises under our care successfully reproduce, lay an egg, and it successfully hatched; but visitors also got to be a part of this amazing experience that normally takes place behind the scenes. We do our best to ensure eggs have the highest chance of survival by intervening and incubating them in a controlled setting, but sometimes if our animals are sneaky and lay an egg or two without our knowledge, “Life, uh, finds a way.” Our baby African pancake tortoise was lucky to have an awesome crowd of Zoo guests cheering it on as it made its way into this world. We did eventually have to take the cuteness overload out of the public eye in order to provide the best baby tortoise care possible. So the next time you visit us here at Scaly Slimy Spectacular, always keep a close look out for those once-in-a-lifetime moments, because you never know when you might get the chance to witness something as adorable as a tortoise hatching.
Trent Niesen
Lead Keeper, Herpetology

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