‘It’s a Big Dill’: 90-Year-Old Turtle Named Mr. Pickles is fathering three children with his 53-year-old partner
A 90-year-old turtle named Mr Pickles proves that it’s never too late to become a father.
The Houston Zoo announced that he and 53-year-old Mrs. Pickles welcomed three young turtles named Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.
The three babies are a “big dill,” according to the zoo’s announcement on Thursday, because these are irradiated turtles under serious threat from the illegal pet trade.
Mr. and Mrs. Pickles have been a “couple” since she first arrived at the zoo in 1996, but the first time Dad has lived there for 36 years.
Mr Pickles (pictured) has become the new father of three youngsters. He and Mrs. Pickles have been a ‘couple’ since 1996
“These little pickles are a big deal (big dill?) for radiated tortoise genetics, as their sire, Mr. Pickles, is the most genetically valuable radiated tortoise in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) species survival plan,” according to the zoo announcement.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Pickles have been together for decades, she only laid eggs once recently – and it was by chance that a herpetology keeper saw it happen during closing time.
And the lucky sighting probably saved the boy’s life.
The zoo explained that Houston’s soil is not hospitable to Madagascar’s native tortoises and that it is unlikely that the eggs would have hatched on their own.
The keeper quickly picked up the eggs and took them to the Reptile & Amphibian House.
Radiated tortoises were once considered one of the world’s most abundant tortoise species, with an estimated population in the millions.
This species is now ranked as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List due to the illegal pet trade that has stolen them from their natural habitat.
“One of the most disturbing trends is that poachers are now entering protected areas to collect turtles and staff there are ill-equipped to patrol and protect the population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a 2010 statement.
The Houston Zoo has announced that the turtles have welcomed three turtle hatchlings named Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño
The tree babies are a “big dill,” according to the zoo’s announcement on Thursday, because these are irradiated turtles under serious threat from the illegal pet trade
Along with poachers, the population has declined due to extreme drought and habitat degradation.
Rick Hudson, president of the Turtle Survival Alliance, said in a 2010 statement, “Radiated turtles are really under siege now like never before, and if we can’t draw a line in the sand around protected areas, then we’re going to lose this species.”
“I can’t think of a turtle species that has experienced a more rapid decline in modern times, or a more drastic reduction in range than the radiated turtle. This is a crisis situation of the highest order.’
And even though the interview was given more than a decade ago, the radiated turtle is still under threat from the illegal pet trade.