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AB Press: Tortoise is 80-year obligation

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Thu Aug 16 08:01:40 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

EDMONTON JOURNAL (Alberta) 11 August 07 Pet tortoise an 80-year obligation; Zoo steps in after owners give up Delei (Jeff Holubitsky)
Edmonton: When Delei came home from a pet store, her shell was so small she could nestle in her owners' palms.
Now, after four years of loving care, the sulcata tortoise weighs almost 16 kilograms. The Edmonton Valley Zoo's newest resident was brought in by owners who no longer wanted a pet expected to weigh more than 90 kilograms by the time she is 15 years old.
"A lot of people get pets without really looking into what it takes to take care of them," Jesse Popowicz, Delei's caregiver at the zoo, said Thursday.
"When these guys are in a pet store they are absolutely tiny and really, really cute and people don't realize they are going to get huge."
In the wild, sulcata tortoises range from the southern edge of the Sahara Desert down through arid African countries including Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Ethiopia. "They are common enough to be found in pet stores but they are threatened in the wild," Popowicz said.
They are the world's third-largest tortoise species, with the capability of living 60 to 80 years. But to live that long they need a lot of room, and special diets consisting of hay and salads.
Delei's former owners had a backyard enclosure behind their Edmonton house to allow the cold-blooded creature to get outside on warm summer days. The rest of the time, the healthy tortoise was kept inside. At the zoo, Delei also appears to enjoy going outside on hot days, but spends cooler weather inside the zoo's Saito Centre, next to an enclosure where a recently surrendered pet fennec fox named Todd also makes its home.
"We get a lot of calls from people with reptiles and parrots, but we can't take all of them, so we have to be pretty selective," Popowicz said. "Some people don't realize what they get into with pets."

http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/local/story.html?id=dc1aa4b4-b0db-453a-88fa-41f666622b9c&k=7042


   

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