At the Detroit Zoo
In 2005, a Detroit Zoo keeper discovered a tortoise walking down the 10 Mile Road service drive outside of the Zoo. The tortoise was taken in and named Tubby. He was estimated to be 3 to 5 years old at the time, and was about the size of a dinner plate; now he is the size of a large buffet plate! Tubby can be seen in the crocodile habitat north of the bear dens in the warm-weather months.
The African spurred tortoise is well camouflaged by its overall sandy coloration. It has thick golden to yellow-brown skin and a brownish carapace. The broad, oval carapace displays prominent serrations at the front and back margins and noticeable growth rings on each scute, which become marked with age. Large overlapping scales cover the front surface of the forelimbs, while the hind surface of the thigh bears two or three large conical spurs, from which it earns its name.
Scientific name: Geochelone sulcata
Habitat: Hottest, driest regions of the desert
Size: 2 to 3 feet
Weight: 80 to 200 pounds
Diet: Grasses and other plants
Reproduction: 15 to 30 eggs that hatch around eight months later
Lifespan: 50 to 100 years
Conservation Status: Vulnerable