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Zoo Atlanta's giant tortoise 'Patches' passes away after being with the zoo for 27 years

The giant tortoise was estimated to have been in her 70s to 80s at the time of her passing.

ATLANTA — A female Aldabra giant tortoise has passed at Zoo Atlanta. The zoological organization made the announcement on Friday.

Patches - a giant tortoise that experts estimate to have been in her 70s or possibly even her 80s at the time of her passing - had been with Zoo Atlanta since 1994, the organization said in a news release.

“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,” Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation, said. “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.”

Animal care and veterinary teams had been treating Patches over the past days after noticing changes in her behavior, Zoo Atlanta said. A CT scan later revealed a large mass in her body cavity, and the teams ultimately made the decision to euthanize her on Friday.

Being an Aldabra giant tortoise, Patches was a part of the second-largest species of tortoises. Females average around 200 pounds, and males average up to 300 pounds. She was one of the largest reptiles at Zoo Atlanta, the organization said. Aldabra tortoises, only found on the islands of Aldabra Atoll, are currently classified as a vulnerable species, according to the organization.

    

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