Prague Zoo's tortoises and elephants enjoy grass

The good weather has many animals outside on lawns, and there are some new babies

The warm weather means more animals want to be outside at Prague Zoo. The highly rated zoo also has new births to announce.

The Galápagos giant tortoises and Aldabra giant tortoises, both of which are cold-blooded reptiles, have spent the past six months indoors in a pavilion. But now it is warm enough for them to go outside to sunbathe and walk on fresh grass.

“Our turtles are enjoying the outdoors; one of the main reasons is, of course, the sun, which also supplies ultraviolet rays. These help the development of the carapace,” Prague Zoo giant reptile expert Nataša Velenská said. The carapace it the hard upper shell of tortoises and other animals such as shellfish.

Being out on a pasture is the best stimulation for the tortoises. “The possibility of fresh grazing on a beautiful, irrigated lawn is the biggest benefit of the enclosure. It also provides tortoises with entertainment. The Aldabra tortoises are friendly, so when one comes out, the other one comes out, often they move all day synchronously side by side on the lawn and enjoy the presence of each other,” Prague Zoo lawn curator Petr Velenský said.

Both breeds of tortoises are considered vulnerable, or one step above endangered.

Earlier in May, the zoo announced that its two baby elephants, Max and Rudi, were also now out playing on the grass in an enclosure, rather than just on dirt. Max, who is older, now weighs 766 kg and Rudi weighs 544 kg.

The elephants will be on the grass from 10 am to mid-afternoon, and then be relocated to the middle enclosure where there is a swimming area.

The zoo also recently announced new births. Three South American bush dogs were born April 7, and the puppies are still with their parents indoors, but if the weather remains good they could soon be outside as well. They are in the pavilion for small American mammals, near the Polar bear enclosure.

This is the sixth litter for these animals, who are difficult to breed in captivity. The species is considered not threatened, which is one step higher than vulnerable, but lower than least concern.

The baby aardvark can now be seen, as the window to the exposition has been opened. The baby was born to female aardvark Kvida on April 22. Its gender is not yet known but it seems to be female. A DNA test still has to be made.

“The most critical period for Kvida's baby is already past. It regularly drinks and is active, so we do not see any reason to not share our joy with our visitors,” Prague Zoo director said Miroslav Bobek said. The baby aardvark should be on view from 10 am to noon and from 2 to 4 pm.

The baby is under close supervision and has been gaining weight. It now weighs over 3 kg.

Thirteen-year-old Kvída has two other youngsters. A male named Kito born in 2015 and today lives in Randers Tropical Zoo in Denmark. The second, a female named Nyota from August 2016, was recently moved to the Olomouc Zoo.

Prague Zoo had a good year in 2017. Attendance in 2017 was the second-highest ever. Some 1,445,126 visited. In April 2017, the zoo welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

There was also the birth of 1,261 youngsters of 219 species of mammals, birds and reptiles.

Prague Zoo last year was named the fifth-best zoo in the world by travel website TripAdvisor. The ranking is based on visitor reviews. The zoo took fourth place in 2015 and seventh place in 2014; no ranking was published in 2016.

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