Shell we get together? Zookeepers create ‘couple’s retreat’ for 100-year-old giant tortoise Little John and 80-year-old Jean in bid to boost breeding programme
- Giant tortoise Little John has been moved to a couples retreat with female Jean
- The 100-year-old tortoise has been put with Jean in effort to get the pair to breed
- Little John is taking over from where another male left off with 80-year-old Jean
- Melbourne Zoo says it ‘rotates’ the creatures around to boost breeding efforts
Melbourne Zoo’s 100-year-old giant tortoise ‘Little John’ is moving to a couple’s retreat with the slightly younger Jean in an effort to get the pair to breed.
Footage from 7News shows Little John, who weighs 200kg, getting a ride in a forklift to his new home in another part of the zoo.
The male tortoise is picking up where another male left off with 80-year-old Jean as the pair move in to their new abode.
Little John (pictured with a visitor to Melbourne Zoo) moved to Melbourne from Taronga Zoo in 1995
‘We rotate them around so they get a bit of different dynamics with each other,’ zookeeper Adam Lee said.
While Mr Lee says the prime breeding season has already finished, the zoo believes the move to a new location, complete with automatic showers, will encourage the pair.
‘We’re hoping we’ll still get some breeding opportunities in for Little John before summer draws to an end…and we’ll keep an eye on Jean to see if she lays any eggs,’ he said.
Staff at the zoo are hoping this latest shift will work. Despite seven years of dating Jean, Little John has yet to produce any offspring.
Little John moved to Melbourne from Taronga Zoo in 1995 and it probably won’t be the last time he shifts his locale, at least within Melbourne Zoo.
Giant tortoises in captivity, like Little John, can live up to 200-years-old.
Little John, Melbourne Zoo’s 100-year-old giant tortoise (pictured) travels by forklift to his new ‘couples retreat’ in another part of the zoo
The giant tortoise
Giant tortoises are native to the Seychelles and the Galapagos Island groups.
The four main subspecies of giant tortoise – Aldabra, Canary Island, Galapagos, and Mascarenes – are named after the islands they are found on.
They can weigh as much as 417kg and can grow to be 1.3m long.
The reptiles are among the world’s longest living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more.
The tortoises belong to an ancient group of reptiles which appeared about 250 million years ago.
Giant tortoises are protected by strict conservation laws and are classed as a threatened species.