Escape to the country - wildlife park's tortoises settle into new home

·3-min read
NEW HOME: A tortoise in its fancy new digs
NEW HOME: A tortoise in its fancy new digs

IF you have visited the Lake District Wildlife Park recently you may have noticed that the Giant African spurred tortoises have an amazing new enclosure.

During the winter months the tortoises were kept inside whilst their home was built.

In the spring they packed their bags and booked the removal van (the wheelbarrow) and moved into their luxury 5-star new build.

Giant African spurred tortoises are the third largest tortoise in the world after the Galapagos and the Aldabra tortoises.

In the wild they live in Africa on the southern edge of the Sahara desert.

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However, with insulated walls, central heating and windows that can be warmed by the sun, they seem quite content in the Lake District.

Set against the backdrop of Skiddaw and the surrounding fells they have stunning 360-degree views.

News and Star: PALS: Two of the giant African spurred tortoises
News and Star: PALS: Two of the giant African spurred tortoises

PALS: Two of the giant African spurred tortoises

They have a large garden, some of which is manicured lawn. Their gardeners (the keepers) tend to the wildflower garden, but the tortoises mow the lawn themselves every day using their amazing beaks.

They freely roam around their own hay meadow which has a variety of grasses and flowers. Sometimes this can prove a challenge at the end of the day when the keepers play 'find the tortoise!'

The luxury tortoise estate also has a large exercise area (the sandpit).

For some of us exercise is a bit of an effort.

News and Star: HOME: the new tortoise enclosure at the wildlife park
News and Star: HOME: the new tortoise enclosure at the wildlife park

HOME: the new tortoise enclosure at the wildlife park

However, if you give a tortoise sand they will dig! In the desert they do this to regulate their temperature and escape the intense heat of the sun. This may not be necessary in the Lake District - however, it is their instinct to dig and burrow.

They will also dig to escape predators, but as their estate has the highest levels of security, they should have nothing to worry about.

After an hour or so of rigorous exercise they can go for a dip to cool off in the pool.

Tortoises do not swim like turtles, so they won’t be seen doing lengths.

However, they will go to water to drink or bathe as soaking in water can be an effective way for them to rehydrate.

News and Star: EXIT: Just popping out to explore
News and Star: EXIT: Just popping out to explore

EXIT: Just popping out to explore

At the end of the day, if they are not exercising, swimming, or hiding in their hay meadow, the tortoises will make their way back to their house.

They have accessible ramps which they steadily climb up into their open plan house. The outer doors that can be lowered like a drawbridge to keep them safe and warm!

Joking aside, the tortoises can now enjoy the luxury of a well thought out enclosure to give them the best life at the Lake District Wildlife Park.

So next time you visit take a closer look and see if you can spot all the benefits.

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