How to Weigh an Alligator at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Alligators Need Medical Care Just Like Any Other Animal; Here’s How a Large Reptile Vet Check is Done  In keeping with Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s mission to put animal welfare first, animal care specialists got up close and personal with the Zoo’s pair of American alligators last week. The two nine-year-old reptiles, Randall and Dante, were due for their annual veterinary exam. The fact that alligators are extremely dangerous was not a consideration in scheduling their veterinary appointment; how to catch them and hold them still for the doctor was.  “Good veterinary care is vital to the wellbeing of our animals,” said Gregg Dancho, Zoo director. “We spend a great deal of time and effort on preventative health care, and the alligators are no different from any other animal.  Our caretakers are carefully trained and practice the appropriate techniques for handling alligators, and their vet exam took place safely.” Key to safety was a team of experienced caretakers, each with a very specific task assigned to them. Animal Curator Rob Tomas gathered a group of six caretakers, and detailed plans for catching one alligator at a time. “Each caretaker has a very specific job, and when things start moving fast, you have to stay focused on the one task you were given to do,” said Tomas. It’s easier to catch an alligator on land than it is in water, so the first retrieval took place while Randall was sunning himself by the viewing window, to the delight of Zoo guests. A small loop was slipped over his head, then his eyes were quickly covered to keep him calm. “It’s important to...

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Welcomes Five Spur-Thigh Tortoises

Third Largest Tortoise Species Visits for the Summer  Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo welcomes five spur-thigh tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) who are making the Zoo their home for the summer. The African spur thigh tortoise, also known as the spurred tortoise, is the third largest species of tortoise in the world, after the Galapagos tortoise and the Aldabra giant tortoise. It is the largest of all mainland tortoises. “Attendance at the Zoo soars each summer, so it’s a great time to bring such special animals here as our temporary guests,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Tortoises also love summer heat, and the spur thigh tortoise is particularly well-adapted to hot temperatures. Also there is the educational message that these wonderful animals do not make good pets! Make wise not wild choices!” “The Zoo will be home to the tortoises from August 1 until sometime this fall,” said Dancho. African spur thigh tortoises are large, and push and knock over heavy objects with ease. One of their unusual behaviors is that they may ram each other, with males especially ramming females. The force with which one tortoise rams another can be intimidating, given their strength. They are generally slow moving, however, in order to conserve energy. They dig burrows in the ground to take shelter from their harsh, hot habitat, with some tunnel systems extending ten or more feet underground. Adult tortoises average 18 inches in shell length and 70-100 pounds in weight. Specimens reaching two to three feet length and more than 150 pounds, however, are not uncommon. They are able to go weeks without food. In the wild, they mainly eat...