City’s biggest tortoises go on display at Bronx Zoo
Rocket and Abdul, who are believed to be more than 100 years old and may live more another century, have 4-foot shells and weigh up to 600 pounds.
Two titanic tortoises, the biggest in the city, with one topping the scales at 600 pounds, have gone on display at the Bronx Zoo.
Both reptiles are believed to be over 100 years old – and could live up to another 100 years. Their giant shells measure about four feet across.
« People just can’t believe the size of these tortoises, » says Don Boyer, the Bronx Zoo’s curator of herpetology.
« We’ve had little kids say, ‘They’re not even real’ – and then the tortoises get up and walk away. »
Rocket, the biggest of the pair, and Abdul, who weighs a mere 400 pounds, were loaned indefinitely to the Bronx Zoo, which is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society, from other zoos in 2012 and 2013.
They’ve been living off-exhibit while a special outdoor habitat, which opened last week, was built for them featuring vegetation to munch on and even a pool where they enjoy a daily dip to cool off.
« We planted a variety of bushes and grasses – and they did a pretty good job of mowing those down, » Boyer said.
The pair are bosom buddies who also like some alone time.
« Sometimes they’re hanging out and sleeping together and sometimes we find them at opposite ends of the enclosure, » Boyer said.
« They each seem to have their own personality. Abdul is very curious and wants to know what you’re up to. Rocket is a little more stand-offish – but he does like neck scratches. »
Abdul and Rocket are the only giant Aldabra tortoises in the city. Native to the Aldabra atoll in the Republic of Seychelles, Aldabra tortoises are considered vulnerable to extinction.
The Bronx Zoo and Staten Island Zoo both have Galapagos tortoises, the only other surviving species of giant tortoises, but the ones on exhibit are adolescents dwarfed by Rocket and Abdul.