First albino of its kind shown: Galapagos giant tortoise very small and white

In the wild, this tortoise would probably not live to be 200 years old like some of its conspecifics.

First albino of its kind shown: Galapagos giant tortoise very small and white

In the wild, this tortoise would probably not live to be 200 years old like some of its conspecifics. Its white skin would attract predators, it weighs just 50 grams. In the Swiss zoo where it hatched, however, the baby of a Galapagos giant tortoise finds admirers.

An albino specimen of a Galapagos giant tortoise has been presented to the public for the first time in Switzerland. A group of schoolchildren were able to admire the small, approximately one-month-old reptile with white skin and red eyes on Friday in a zoo in Servion, Switzerland. The baby turtle is the first known albino specimen of its kind.

The Galapagos giant tortoises, which can live up to 200 years, are an endangered species. There are an estimated 23,000 left on the Ecuadorian Galapagos Islands. In principle, the genetic pigment disorder albinism can also occur in turtles. However, an albino Galapagos giant tortoise had never been found.

Philippe Morel, owner of the Servion Tropiquarium, estimates that the life expectancy of an albino turtle in the wild would be very short, as the white skin would attract predators. In his zoo, however, she can grow up normally, he believes.

"She's even more active than the others," said Morel's son Thomas, who looks after the animals in the tropiquarium. The albino tortoise hatched along with a sibling that has the usual black coloration of the species. The sex of the two reptiles, which weigh around 50 grams, cannot yet be determined.

The successful reproduction of this tortoise species in the zoo is extraordinary in itself: Because of their size, Galapagos giant tortoises, which can weigh up to 200 kilograms when fully grown, have difficulty mating. The success rate is about two percent. So far, only three zoos worldwide, including two in Switzerland, have managed to breed these animals.

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