Becoming a first-time parent is always a big deal, but it may be an even bigger deal when you’re 90-years-old.
That’s what just happened to Mr. Pickles, a radiated tortoise living at the Houston Zoo. He and his partner, Mrs. Pickles, surprised a zoo staff member at closing time with their looming parenthood.
A blog from the zoo reads, “The new hatchlings came as a surprise when a herpetology keeper happened upon Mrs. Pickles as the tortoise was laying her eggs at closing time. The animal care team quickly went to work uncovering the eggs and getting them to the safety of the Reptile & Amphibian House. The soil in Houston isn’t hospitable to the Madagascar native tortoises, and it’s unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own if the keeper hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.”
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute says there are more than 1,000 individuals in captive breeding programs, with some in North America showing promise. In the wild, however, there is the concern of extinction.