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Animal Stories: Desert Tortoises

This post is the second in a series about animals at CuriOdyssey who are former pets.

CuriOdyssey is home to two desert tortoises, “Spork” and “Antiguo.”  Like Oliver the skunk, both of these tortoises are former pets. Today, it is illegal to have desert tortoises as pets unless they were acquired before August 4, 1989 or were adopted through a US Fish and Wildlife Service-approved adoption program. Our exhibit tortoise, Antiguo, was found walking down Santa Cruz Street and was taken to the SPCA. He came to CuriOdyssey in 1999. Our education tortoise, Spork, was surrendered to the Silicon Valley Turtle and Tortoise Rescue and came to CuriOdyssey in 2009.  Tortoises are a high-maintenance pet due to their lighting and heating requirements and can live over 80 years in captivity- talk about a long commitment!


Today, our tortoises are one of our most popular Animal Ambassadors. Antiguo lives with our burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) and Spork is used for educational programs. When they are not hibernating during the winter months, both enjoy eating a variety of greens, prickly pear cactus fruit, strawberries, raspberries and occasionally rose petals.  They also get bathed three times a week and have a toothbrush reserved for scrubbing their shells.  On warm sunny days they get taken out for walks in our back field area and sometimes get hand-fed dandelion and clover flowers from our interns!

[post and photos by Rachael Rufino]

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1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401
Ohlone Land Acknowledgement
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CuriOdyssey is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Tax ID 94-1262434

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The gold standard for animal care and welfare.
ASTC Member. Association of Science and Technology Centers.
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