I want to help Aldabra tortoises! What can I do?
One of the best parts of being a keeper is working with amazing animals like Rulon, Chyna and our juvenile Aldabra tortoises. Getting to share their stories—and those of their wild cousins—is another. Although Aldabra tortoises only live on their namesake atoll today, they used to live on other Seychelles Islands, including Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Rodriguez. For centuries, sailors hunted these tortoises for food. By 1840, only a small number remained.
Today, they are only found on Aldabra, and populations have bounced back to more than 100,000 individuals. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers them vulnerable to extinction because habitat destruction and poaching remain a threat. Many reptiles that share their atoll are still considered endangered and critically endangered.
The good news is that we can help Aldabra tortoises and their neighbors. Teach others by sharing the tortoises’ stories and fun facts about them; responsibly support ecotourism when you travel and refrain from eating turtles and tortoises. You can also help native reptiles in your own backyard by picking up litter, providing proper habitat, and following the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.
During your next visit to the Zoo, I hope you will stop by the Reptile Discovery Center and say hello to our charming and charismatic creep of Aldabra tortoises!
This story was featured in the April 2021 issue of National Zoo News.
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