17/12/2020

Gentle giant Biggie celebrates 45 years at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Our gentle giant reaches a remarkable milestone on Christmas Eve.

On that day Biggie, the giant tortoise, will have been at the Zoo for 45 years  ̶  longer than any other animal.

Biggie came to Bristol in 1975 when Queen’s 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was at number one in the charts and the average price of a house was £11,700.

Today he lives with three other giant Aldabra tortoises Helen, Twiggy and Mike.

They are each important because Aldabra giant tortoises are classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Although Biggie’s exact birth date is not known his keepers believe he is more than 60 years old and he could be around for many years to come as Aldabra tortoises can live for more than 100 years.

Biggie lives on a diet of just hay and vegetables, including red peppers, yet he weighs in at a back-breaking 28 stone (177 kg).

Adam Davis, Senior Keeper of Reptiles, said: “Biggie is such a gentle giant and he’s so well known to all our visitors. People just love tortoises and everyone loves Biggie.”

If anyone is looking for a special present they can adopt Biggie. Adoption packs cost £50 and as well as an admission ticket, they include a certificate, a fact file about the animal and a soft toy.

People who adopt Biggie can also have their names placed beside his enclosure in the heart of the Zoo.

Aldabra tortoises, like Biggie, get their name from the Aldabra Atoll off the coast of the Seychelles and live in tropical grasslands and feed on grasses. In the wild they begin feeding early in the morning when it is cooler and when the dew is thick on the grass.

They can weigh up to 39 stone (250kg) and are so big they cannot withdraw their heads and legs completely into their shells. But on the islands where they evolved they did not need to use their shells as protection, as there were no predators.

Giant tortoises, like Biggie, were found on many islands in the western Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, but were driven to near extinction through over-exploitation by an increasing number of settlers and European explorers.

Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning four continents.

To adopt Biggie go to our adoptions page, or take a look at our festive gift selection for unique Christmas presents!

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Now faced with a third closure, the BZS Appeal is more important than ever