Eggs laid by irradiated tortoise Mrs. Pickles about five months ago hatched at the Houston Zoo, revealing three tiny offspring.
The father, Mr. Pickles, is the oldest animal at the Houston Zoo and is the most genetically valuable irradiated turtle in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.
Mr. Pickles, 90, has been at the zoo for 36 years, while Mrs. Pickles arrived in 1996; they have been a fan favorite of zoo-goers for years. The pair only reproduced once more in 1997 with one cub.
Radiated tortoises are critically endangered and produce few offspring. So when the herpetology keeper saw Mrs. Pickles laying eggs, she alerted the animal care team, who placed the eggs in the zoo’s reptile and amphibian home. By doing this, they ensured that the eggs hatched because Houston’s soil was not hospitable to the native tortoises of Madagascar.
Baby turtle names are more apt to be part of the Pickle family: Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeno. Just inches away, they will be hidden from public view until they are old enough to safely reach their parents.
A portion of every zoo membership and admission goes to help zoo partners in Madagascar replant wildlife habitat to save animals in the wild.