Longleat celebrates pancake tortoise births

image copyrightLongleat/PA
image captionSyrup joins his siblings Banana, Peanut, Piccolo and Prairie. A newborn weighs about 17g

Keepers at Longleat Safari Park are celebrating the success of their pancake tortoise breeding programme, with five newborns.

Syrup, Banana, Peanut, Piccolo and Prairie have been born to Poppadom and Jua in the past year. Newborns are about as big as a 50p coin.

Pancake tortoises, named for their flat shells, are critically-endangered, and native to Kenya and Tanzania.

They are at risk because of habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade.

image copyrightLongleat/PA
image captionPancake tortoises have lightweight shells and are known for their speed, agility and climbing skills

The tortoises also have such slow reproductive rates that wild populations take a while to recover when numbers drop.

In the wild, they can live for up to 25 years, reaching up to 35 years in captivity.

Longleat now have seven pancake tortoises, including the two parents.

Because of their flattened size, they prefer to run and hide from predators in crevices rather than using their shells like other species.

The tortoises' light weight also makes them good climbers.

The five were born over the course of a year, with the first, Syrup, arriving in February 2020, and the youngest one arriving on 18 January 2021.

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