Posted on 19th March 2021 by Media Relations
Today Taronga Western Plains Zoo is celebrating the 10th birthday of Galapagos Tortoise hatchling NJ.
NJ made news headlines across Australia back in 2011 when he hatched, being the first Galapagos Tortoise to hatch in the Australasian region.
“When NJ hatched he weighed just over 90 grams and over the past decade he has slowly grown in size and weight and now weighs 6kg,” said Keeper Amy Sturrock.
“NJ still has a lot of growing to do as Galapagos Tortoises don’t reach their full size until approximately 20 – 25 years of age.”
“Our biggest male at the Zoo is Albert and he weighs in at 285kgs at 50 years old, so that just shows how much growing NJ still has to go,” said Amy.
To mark the occasion a special enrichment birthday surprise has been created for NJ by his keeper which includes all of his favourite fruits.
“NJ loves his fruit and the Galapagos Tortoise only get these types of food as a treat, so he will no doubt devour his fruit birthday cake,” said Amy.
“Whilst we affectionately refer to NJ as a male, we don’t actually know if he is a male or female as yet because their sex isn’t able to be determine until they are around 15 years old.”
NJ, along with younger hatchlings Turbo and Pena, can be seen through the hatchling viewing window at the Zoo’s Galapagos Tortoise exhibit.
“A great time to learn more about this species is at our Galapagos Tortoise Keeper Talk which takes place at 2:45pm daily,” said Amy.
The breeding season for the Galapagos Tortoise generally is between December and May. Whilst the Zoo has an active breeding program for this species and breeding behaviour is being observed, it hasn’t resulted in nesting behaviours from the females in the past 18 months.