90-year-old endangered Mr. Pickles fathers 3 ‘surprise’ babies in Texas. Take a look

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Mr. Pickles is quite special.

For starters, this radiated tortoise is considered “the most genetically valuable radiated tortoise in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan.”

His species is critically endangered, and as the species is known to only produce a few offspring, any babies are worth celebrating.

And now Mr. Pickles, at 90 years old, has given zookeepers at the Houston Zoo three unexpected reasons to celebrate.

Mr. Pickles is not only the oldest animal at the zoo in Texas, but also the newest dad, according to a March 16 news release.

He and his companion, aptly named Mrs. Pickles, are the new parents to three radiated tortoises — Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.

“The new hatchlings came as a surprise when a herpetology keeper happened upon Mrs. Pickles as the tortoise was laying her eggs at closing time,” zoo officials said. “The animal care team quickly went to work uncovering the eggs and getting them to the safety of the Reptile & Amphibian House.”


“The soil in Houston isn’t hospitable to the Madagascar native tortoises, and it’s unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own if the keeper hadn’t been in the right place at the right time,” officials continued.

Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño will “remain behind the scenes in the Reptile & Amphibian House until they are big enough to safely join their parents,” according to the release.

Their parents — Mr. and Mrs. Pickle — have been together at the zoo since 1996. They had one other “baby pickle,” born in 1997.

Radiated tortoises are native to the southern and southwestern parts of Madagascar, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

The Houston Zoo said they are “critically endangered from over-collection for the illegal pet trade.”

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