Native to southern Madagascar, Mr. Pickles belongs to a class of radiated tortoises that are Critically Endangered and rarely produce offspring.
The 90-year-old radiated tortoise, Mr. Pickles, also the oldest animal at the Houston Zoo, has become a father for the first time last week. Mr. Pickles and his 53-year-old partner, Mrs. Pickles, became parents to three hatchlings that could live for up to 150 years if taken good care of. Native to southern Madagascar, radiated tortoises are Critically Endangered and rarely produce offspring, Houston Zoo officials said, reported Good News Network.
“The new hatchlings came as a surprise when a herpetology keeper happened upon Mrs. Pickles as the tortoise was laying her eggs at closing time,” the Houston Zoo blog reported. "The animal care team quickly went to work uncovering the eggs and getting them to the safety of the Reptile & Amphibian House. The soil in Houston isn’t hospitable to the Madagascar native tortoises, and it’s unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own if the keeper hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.”
Houston Zoo also took to Instagram to share this wonderful news, as it wrote, "Baby pickles have hatched! At 90 years young, Mr. Pickles is the oldest animal at the Zoo and is the newest father of three radiated tortoises. These little Pickles are a big dill for radiated tortoise genetics as their father is the most genetically valuable radiated tortoise in the @zoos_aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The new tortoises will remain behind the scenes in the Reptile & Amphibian House until they are big enough to safely join their parents. Meet Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeño at houstonzoo.org."
Mr. Pickles, a critically endangered species of tortoise at the Houston Zoo, finally became a father at the age of 90. He and his partner, Mrs. Pickles, welcomed three tortoise hatchlings: Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.https://t.co/KfYXf7L5E0 pic.twitter.com/TCI45YsTY1— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 22, 2023
In another post, the Houston Zoo wrote happily on Instagram, "We love pickles! Meet our variety pack of radiated tortoise hatchlings: Gherkin, Dill, and Jalapeño. Thanks to First Place Foods for sending our tortoise animal care team a pickle variety pack of their own. We relish the moment Mr. Pickles became a first-time dad at 90 years old. The whole pickle family is doing well, and the hatchlings will remain behind the scenes until they are old enough to join their parents."
Mrs. Pickles arrived at the Houston Zoo in 1996 and has lived alongside Mr. Pickles ever since. Their kids have been given names as well. They will be called: Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeño. The new parents have been key to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this rare reptile that has unfortunately fallen due to the illegal animal trade. In 2018 10,000 radiated tortoises have been found in a private home in Toliara, Madagascar. Rescuers sent them to Le Village Des Tortues (“Turtle Village”), a private wildlife rehabilitation facility in Ifaty, 18 miles north of Toliara, reported Good News Network.
A 90-year-old tortoise named Mr. Pickles stunned his handlers with an adorable surprise. pic.twitter.com/IVYgRFrCSa— CNN (@CNN) March 27, 2023
Preventative measures are being taken to stop the extinction of the reptile. Also, these measures have been the establishment of breeding colonies on the Reunion Islands and Mauritius, where the conditions are similar to its home in Madagascar.
The Pickles family is a wholesome bunch and their pictures together could not have been any more adorable!