The two new baby tortoises that hatched this past spring are growing up fast.
They are still hanging out behind the scenes in the Small Animal House.
One of the interesting things that the keepers have learned this past year is about the impact of the tortoises' diet on the appearance of their carapaces.
In the picture below, you will see the difference between the tortoise raised in the Zoo (with the raised bumps on its carapace) and the tortoise that was rescued and had her carapace repaired, who grew uo outside the Zoo (her carapace is smoother.)
The keepers found that the tortoises who had been raised on lettuce had these bumpy shells and have since changed the tortoises diets from lettuce (which is not native to the Negev Desert, of course) to a local plant to the region: mallow
The mallow is an annual plant that reaches a height of some 50 cm (20 inches). It blossoms from February to June, and has pink, five-petaled leaves, approximately 2.5 cm (about one inch) in diameter. Mallow, whose modern Hebrew name, halamit, is almost identical to the biblical halamot (mentioned in Job 6:6 for example). The Arabic name for the plant is hubeza, which it is commonly. Israel is home to six species of the plant.
See the difference between their carapaces