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Norbert the giant tortoise turns 50

Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 9:32 am

Sept. 20, 2012

Norbert, the zoo's adult male Aldabra tortoise, will celebrate his 50th birthday on Sunday.

"It's safe to say that Norbert is the oldest animal in the zoo," says registrar Michelle Federspiel, who maintains the zoo's animal records. "We have some animals in their late 20s and 30s, but very few animals live as long as tortoises."

Aldabra tortoises and other giant tortoises are among the longest-living animals on Earth, with some individuals living more than 200 years.

Zookeeper Chuck Schuh says the 550-pound Norbert is holding up well as the tortoise approaches the half-century mark.

"I think daily mud baths are the secret to his youthful appearance," says Schuh.

You can join in Norbert's birthday celebration: Sign Norbert's giant-sized birthday card from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, and join us for a Happy Birthday sing-along at 2 p.m., when Norbert will receive his birthday "cake!"

Summer vacation is over for Gorgon

You know that warm weather has come to an end when Gorgon, our Komodo dragon, moves from her summer "vacation home" near the lemurs to her indoor enclosure in Dr. Diversity's Rain Forest Research Station.

Like all reptiles, Gorgon is unable to regulate her own body temperature and depends on her surroundings to warm up or cool down. During the hot summer months, outdoor temperatures are perfect for a Komodo. But once nighttime temperatures dip into the 50s or lower, it's time for Gorgon's summer sojourn to end.

"Gorgon really enjoys her outdoor stay," says zookeeper Dave Messmann. "Getting natural sunlight is also important for proper bone development in lizards, so her 'vacation' is good for her health, too."

Work at the Zoo!

Looking for a unique job opportunity? The zoo is hiring for several positions, including event coordinator, zookeeper, and maintenance staff. To see all job openings at the zoo,click on http://kidszoo.org/about-the-zoo/employment-opportunities.

Cheryl Piropato is education and communications director for the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.