Little Rock Zoo mourns loss of tortoise “Ed”

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Zoo is mourning the loss of its Aldabra tortoise Ed.

A news release issued Tuesday said he had been part of the zoo family since 1991. The zoo says his age was unknown.

Once weighing in at a whopping 580 pounds, Ed had been known for his larger size. The zoo has three other Aldabra tortoises.

Ed came to the Little Rock Zoo from the Louisville Zoo, where he had lived since being “wild caught” in 1990. He’s originally from an island of the Aldabra Atoll located in the Seychelles off the African coast.

The zoo says Ed was under veterinary care for several weeks due to his inappetence and lethargic behavior. He was humanely euthanized Friday due to an unresolvable intestinal impaction. A full necropsy was performed.

“Ed loved doing target training. It was one of his favorite things to do. He would do anything for a treat,” said Connor Livingston, one of his former keepers. Training is an animal husbandry practice that gives physical exercise and provides mental stimulation for the animals.

Connor also shared that watermelon was Ed’s favorite food. Connor added that Ed lived with his female companion, Earnestine.

The Aldabra tortoise is the second largest land tortoise species on earth, with the male’s upper shell measuring up to four feet. A male Aldabra tortoise can weigh up to 550 pounds or more.

Currently, Aldabra tortoises are considered a vulnerable species, which according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) means that they are likely to become endangered as long as the issues that are threatening their survival and reproduction remain unchecked. As an AZA accredited zoo participating in the S.A.F.E – Saving Animals From Extinction program, the Little Rock Zoo has a critical role in the protection and conservation of endangered animals. The Little Rock Zoo protects several of the 21 species in the S.A.F.E program: gorillas, African lions, cheetahs, African penguins, black rhinos, jaguars and orangutans.

The zoo also has four African spurred tortoises that make up the rest of its tortoise reptile group.

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