A dad at 71?

Hugo and Estrella bonded over a meal when they first met Photo: Australian Reptile Park

Staff at the Australian Reptile Park are excited at the thought of hearing the patter of tiny tortoise feet, with Hugo the Galapagos tortoise likely to become a dad at the age of 71.

After years of searching for the one, the world’s most famous tortoise finally met his girlfriend Estrella in October, 2021, after she arrived from Germany.

Nine months later, Estrella is showing follicle development meaning she is ready to breed very soon.

Hugo and Estrella became world-wide news back in 2019 when keepers at the Australian Reptile Park put Hugo on Tinder in hopes of finding a mate for the eligible bachelor.

Zoo Rostock in Germany saw this and swiped right on behalf of Estrella.

Since Estrella’s arrival from Germany, Park staff have been keeping a close eye on Estrella as she adjusts to life in Australia.

Last week, keepers noticed a change in Estrella’s behaviour and she was taken to the vet for assessment.

When an ultrasound was performed it was discovered that inside her ovaries the beginnings of healthy follicles was found.

Park Head of Reptiles, Jake Meney, said the presence of the follicles was positive for Estrella, both as an indicator of her mental and physical wellbeing and for her reproductive health.

“Now we know what caused Estrella’s shift in behaviour, we can monitor and change her care to align with her needs as she enters mating age,” he said.

“Estrella’s doing really well, and I am so happy with how she has progressed since arriving at the Australian Reptile Park.

“We are certainly hoping this leads to the pitter patter of tiny tortoise feet in the next year or two.”

Estrella is due for another ultrasound in a couple of weeks, which will give final confirmation to whether she is ready to mate with her partner Hugo.

Hugo and Estrella are paired as part of Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia’s prescribed species breeding program.

Hugo has called the Australian Reptile Park home since 1963 after arriving as an infant.

He has now reached middle age and at 181kg is fully grown and one of the Park’s most popular animals.

Media release, Jul 11
Australian Reptile Park