Rare baby tortoises arrive at Fife Zoo after 350-mile journey

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A trio of rare red footed tortoise babies have made an epic 350-mile journey from Nottinghamshire to their new home at Fife Zoo.

They are unusual given that they are one of the very few number of tortoise species which require protein in their diet.

Having hatched at White Post Farm in Nottinghamshire in 2021, the tortoises embarked upon an immense journey to their new home in the Kingdom. Specialist keepers from White Post accompanied the tortoises throughout the entirety of their journey ahead of them animals going on display at the Ladybank zoo this week.

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The vast majority of tortoise species are herbivores, relying on grasses and plants to form the basis of their diet. Red Footed tortoises also enjoy edible greens, but are considered omnivores given that their diet also includes slow moving invertebrates such as worms, slugs and snails. Native to South America, Red Footed tortoises are also recorded to have eaten the carrion of mammals and birds in the wild.

The red footed tortoises have arrived at Fife Zoo (Pic: Fife Zoo)The red footed tortoises have arrived at Fife Zoo (Pic: Fife Zoo)
The red footed tortoises have arrived at Fife Zoo (Pic: Fife Zoo)

The tortoises’ move is part of a conservation programme to manage the captive number of their species - they are now considered vulnerable to the threat of extinction due to increased habitat loss in their native range and an increasing number of cases of smuggling for the illegal pet trade.

Mike Knight, Fife Zoo director, said; ‘We know that they are going to be popular with all of our visitors now that they have gone on display having completed all of their initial health checks. We are hoping that these tortoises will be ambassadors for their wild counterparts and their presence in the zoo will help to raise awareness of devastating habitat loss in South America.

“Unfortunately, there are also a rising number of people deciding to own an exotic pet such as tortoises without realising the specialist care that they require. Red footed tortoises have very specific temperature and humidity requirements and their diet differs significantly from most other tortoises.’’

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Fife Zoo is currently expanding as part of a ten-year master plan. It is home to other animals including the endangered Grevy’s Zebra and Sulcata Tortoises which are the third largest species of tortoise in the world.

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