Endangered African Tortoises Found a Home in Ukrainian Eco-Park
Endangered African spurred tortoises have hatched at the Kharkiv eco-park. A batch of 60 eggs was put in an incubator back in July, and the first 6 hatchlings appeared just one month ago. This species is one of the largest tortoises on the planet
“Here, look at it! It’s already a month old — it’s a real spurred tortoise. Its spurs have already started to appear. They use spurs to dig holes. And here is its tail,” Svitlana Vyshnevetska, head of “Rodent and Terrarium” Svitlana Vyshnevetska, head of “Rodent and Terrarium” department of the Kharkiv Ecopark, said.
Svitlana Vyshnevetska calls herself the head of a “tortoise kindergarten.” It’s located at the Kharkiv Ecopark. Her group consists of 6 hatchlings. All of them have passports, where their height, weight, and special features are stated. African spurred tortoises are born weighing just 26 grams and can grow up to 140 kilograms.
“The largest one weighs 72 grams, then there’s one who weighs 71, and 67. The smallest one weighs 26. It’s just a little baby,” Vyshnevetska said.
Svitlana tries to create the best conditions for the animals. She set up a camera to watch them. If the tortoises roll over their backs and spend several hours on their upper shells, they can die. That is why they need to be monitored, even at night. Twice a week, the animals are bathed in a special solution. They are fed germinated vegetable seeds and calcium vitamins. All the food is pre-minced to make sure that the tortoises can swallow it.
“We cut it until it is fine. While they are this small, it definitely needs to be cut very finely,” she said.
This is the second time in Ukraine that this species has been bred in captivity. The first offspring of the African spurred tortoises will turn one year old at the end of December.
“I am holding a unique tortoise, which will grow to be up to 140 kilograms in the future. At this time, we are the only people in Ukraine to successfully breed African spurred tortoises,” Valeria Ivashchenko, Deputy Head of Kharkiv Ecopark said.
At the moment, the Kharkiv eco-park is home to 22 African spurred tortoises. The largest one is Gabi, which weighs 140 kilograms. A new clutch of eggs is already lying in the incubator. More hatchlings of this endangered species are expected to hatch next year.