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90-year-old tortoise is a hero to his species by becoming a first-time dad to 3 hatchlings

It’s been an exciting time for a couple of tortoises at the Houston Zoo—and really, for tortoises everywhere.

The zoo announced on its blog that their oldest resident, Mr. Pickles, a 90-year-old radiated tortoise, and his 53-year-old companion Mrs. Pickles (that’s quite an age gap there sir, but no judgment) recently welcomed three new hatchlings.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, here are the new baby names: Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.

Clearly, Jalepeño is the spicy one of the bunch.

While this news is certainly momentous for Mr. and Mrs. Pickles, it’s also a huge achievement for the entire species, which is currently critically endangered.

Mr. Pickles has been a resident of the Houston Zoo for 36 years, and during that time had never produced offspring. So the staff, understandably, weren’t expecting incoming hatchlings any time soon. But then, just as the herpetology keeper was closing up for the day…surprise!

Apparently it was a very good thing that the keeper noticed the eggs. As the blog explained, the soil in humid Houston “isn’t hospitable” to the drier earth of Madagascar, so without human assistance, the eggs likely wouldn’t have hatched. Talk about divine timing.

Due to overcollection for illegal sales, combined with the fact that radiated tortoises naturally don’t produce much offspring, their numbers in the wild have severely dwindled. So much so that they are expected by some to go extinct in the wild, making captivities all the more important.

First-time father Mr. Pickles has made all the more important of a contribution, since he is considered the most “genetically valuable” radiated tortoise in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

Basically, the zoo said it best. “These baby Pickles are a big dill.”

As for Dill, Gherkin and (my favorite) Jalepeño, the trio will live in the zoo’s Reptile & Amphibian House until they grow big enough to reunite with their parents.

Source: Upworthy
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