Reaching new heights: successful surgery for Aldabra giant tortoise

28 February 2024

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Weighing nearly 200kg, Biggy the Aldabra giant tortoise is heavier than a silverback gorilla and trying to move him can present some big challenges. When Jersey Zoo’s Senior Veterinary Officer, Violaine Colon, needed to assess and remove a benign tumour discovered on Biggy’s tail, a new piece of technical equipment was required. Thanks to the generosity of a donor, a specialist hoist was built to lift Jersey Zoo’s heaviest animal off the floor. The hoist used a pull-chain system to gently raise and support Biggy, which allowed the Veterinary Team and Reptile Department to examine and then remove the benign tumour.

With the donor’s kind support and the expert care of Jersey Zoo’s teams, this extremely successful operation means Biggy is now much more agile and social, even for a century-old giant tortoise.

On Wednesday 7 February, ITV Channel News interviewed Violaine about the surgery and Biggy’s fantastic recovery. Watch the news piece here:

Giant tortoises were once found across Mauritius and its surrounding islands but sadly these tortoises are now extinct. Round Island has many plant species that have adapted and evolved to the presence of tortoises and relied on them for seed dispersal. When tortoises disappeared from the island due to hunting, the plant life began to suffer. Alongside partners in Mauritius, Durrell has been introducing Aldabra tortoises to Round Island and other Mauritian islands since 2007. This has helped plant species to thrive and other species to benefit from these ecosystem engineers. 

Want to find out more about Biggy and the Aldabra giants at Jersey Zoo? Discover our ex-shell-ent tortoises here: