Devon

Giant tortoises prove X-ray challenge at Paignton Zoo

Image copyright Paignton Zoo
Image caption Keepers at Paignton Zoo have designed a wooden frame to make it easier to X-ray tortoises

Zookeepers have come up with a way of stopping giant tortoises crushing expensive X-ray equipment.

Giant Aldabra tortoises at Paignton Zoo in Devon have been repeatedly damaging plates worth £900 each.

To solve the problem, a technician has designed a wooden frame like a table without a top.

Keepers can now slide an X-ray plate underneath the animals without it bearing their full weight of around 14 stone (89kg).

Image copyright Paignton Zoo
Image caption With the frame the £900 X-ray plates do not bear the full weight

A member of the vet team then stands above the tortoise with the zoo's mobile X-ray machine, and takes the scan from above.

Vet nurse Celine Campana said: "We were sliding the digital X-ray plates under the tortoises, but they would stamp on them or poo and pee."

Image copyright Paignton Zoo
Image caption The female Aldabra giant tortoises have been damaging the plates

By X-raying the females keepers are able to see if they are carrying any eggs.

The Aldabra giant tortoises have been at the zoo since 1986 when they were confiscated from an illegal shipment by Customs and Excise.

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