Zoo Atlanta mourns passing of Aldabra giant tortoise

dvm360dvm360 March 2022
Volume 53
Issue 3
Pages: 12

Patches was a notable resident as one of the largest reptiles at the zoo and a representative of her vulnerable species.

Patches was believed to be in her 70s or 80s at the time of her passing (Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta).

Patches was believed to be in her 70s or 80s at the time of her passing (Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta).

Zoo Atlanta announced the passing of Patches—a female Aldabra giant tortoise—on February 5, 2022. Although her actual age is unknown, Patches was estimated to have been in her 70s to 80s when she passed away.

“We are very saddened by the loss of Patches. She was a wonderful link for so many people to the fascination of reptiles and to the key role that tortoises play in their ecosystems wherever they are found,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, vice president of collections and conservation, in an organizational release.

“It is not difficult to make connections with an animal such as a gorilla or a giant panda or a giraffe. Some people find it more challenging to connect with reptiles, which makes Patches’ legacy all the more extraordinary. She had a personality on par with her size, and she will be dearly missed,” she added.

The animal care and veterinary teams had been caring for Patches recently after noticing shifts in her physical condition and behavior (ie, lethargy, fluid build-up, lack of appetite, and weakness). When a CT scan uncovered various health concerns, including a large mass in her body cavity, the teams decided to euthanize Patches because they were apprehensive about her quality of life.

According to the release, a necropsy will be completed through the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Patches arrived at Zoo Atlanta in 1994 and was a resident there for about 28 years. During her time, she familiarized a plethora of zoo members and guests with her charming species.

Currently, Zoo Atlanta has 2 other Aldabra tortoise residents, male Shuffles and female Corky, both also estimated to be in their 70s to 80s. The Aldabra tortoises are the oldest animals at Zoo Atlanta; however, Patches was considered middle-aged for her species, which can live over 100 years.

Surpassed in size only by their Galapagos Islands cousins, Aldabra tortoise males weigh an average of 300 pounds while females weigh approximately 200 pounds. According to the release, Aldabra tortoises are currently classified as vulnerable and found only in the islands of Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of eastern Africa.


Remembering Patches. News release. Zoo Atlanta. February 5, 2022. Accessed February 7, 2022. https://zooatlanta.org/press-release/remembering-patches/

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