Mr. Pickles, a 90-year-old tortoise, welcomes three hatchlings at the Houston Zoo 🐢🐢🐢
· Mar 22, 2023 ·

Mr. Pickles and Mrs. Pickles met at the Houston Zoo 27 years ago and the rest was history.

Mr. Pickles, a radiated tortoise native to Madagascar, is the oldest animal at the zoo at the ripe age of 90 years old and has been at the zoo for 36 years.

Needless to say, it was a borderline miracle when the lifelong companions recently welcomed their three new hatchlings!

The three new babies were aptly named Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeño.

The last time the pair had a baby was in 1997. That was only one hatchling.

The zoo says tortoises are critically endangered and don't often produce offspring.

Not only is the dad old, but the birth of these babies was only possible because a zoo keeper was at the right place at the right time!

Just as the zoo was about to close, a herpetology keeper noticed Mrs. Pickles laying eggs. The animal care team quickly recovered the eggs and brought them to the Reptile and Amphibian House at the zoo because the soil in Houston isn't conducive for incubating Madagascar-native tortoises eggs.

The eggs probably wouldn't have hatched if they weren't found and transferred immediately.

According to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, females usually lay three to 12 eggs at a time and can live between 40 and 50 years. However, they are endangered because they are collected and sold in the illegal pet trade.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature expects an 80% decrease in the tortoise population, estimating their total population as 1.4 million to 4 million.

Mr. Pickles is actually crucial to the conservation plan for this species in the U.S. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, Mr. Pickles is the most genetically valuable radiated tortoise.

BIG congrats to the parents!

For now, Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeño are being cared for at the Reptile and Amphibian House until they are old enough to join their parents.

Ready to join the conversation? Subscribe today.

Access comments and our fully-featured social platform.

Sign up Now
App screenshot

You must signup or login to view or post comments on this article.