Success for Longleat’s rare tortoise

KEEPERS at Longleat are celebrating the success of their pancake tortoise breeding programme. No fewer than five critically endangered baby pancake tortoises have been born at the safari park in the last year.

The eldest of the quintet, Syrup, celebrated his first birthday, appropriately on Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday). He was joined by siblings Banana, Peanut, Piccolo and Prairie for the big day alongside proud parents Poppadom and Jua.

Native to Kenya and Tanzania, the pancake tortoise is renowned for its speed, agility and climbing skills. As they cannot use their shells for protection from would-be predators they have to rely on being flat, fast and flexible to evade capture.

The greatest threats facing the pancake tortoise are habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade. Due to their slow reproductive rates, wild populations take a long time to recover if their numbers fall. In the wild they can live for up to 25 years while the maximum recorded age in captivity is 35 years.

A critically endangered (CR) species is one that has been categorised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.