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On 24 December 1975 Biggie, the giant tortoise, arrived at Bristol Zoo. This means he has been at the Zoo longer than any other animal. His exact birth date is unknown but keepers believe he is more than 60 years old and he could be around for many years to come as Aldabra tortoises can live to more than 100 years old.
Aldabra tortoises can weigh up to 250kg (39 stones) and are so big that 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 were found on many islands in the western Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, but were driven to extinction through over-exploitation by an increasing number of settlers and European explorers.
Today the Aldabra giant tortoise is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
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