Monday, 20 June 2011

Giant tortoise bachelors Al and Tex find romance at long last

IT'S a shell-shocking love story.

Al and Tex, two giant tortoise buddies who hadn't been around a female in more than 20 years and were in sad need of a date, appear to have discovered lust at first sight with a couple of hotties from Atlanta, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

At first glance, Al and Tex don't sound like George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Al is 130 years old and weighs 250 kilograms while Tex, a mere 90, tips the scale at 160kg.

Al last saw a female tortoise in 1983 and Tex, whose memories are a little more recent, was last around a lady friend in the late 1980s.

Both residents of the Knoxville Zoo, "the boys" needed some matchmaking help.

Enter the zoo's assistant curator of herpetology Michael Ogle, who helped arrange a hookup with two Zoo Atlanta female tortoises, Patches and Corky.

The temptresses are both younger (60 to 70) and svelte (90-115kg).

But first, the News Sentinel reported, the male and female tortoises had to spend four to five months apart to successfully reproduce - it's a tortoise thing, don't ask.

So the boys and girls switched zoo homes for a while, since neither had enough space to house all four separately.

On Wednesday, Mr Ogle drove Al and Tex back from Atlanta to meet Patches and Corky, alluringly awaiting them in a clover-filled exhibit.

For Al, romance blossomed instantly and he moved much faster than normal tortoise speed to mate with Patches.

Tex, who has an arthritic-like leg condition, paced himself more slowly but at least seemed interested in the tantalising twosome.

The goal, of course, is baby tortoises, to be shared between the two zoos. But it will have to be a fleeting summer romance - Corky and Patches are due back in Atlanta come October.

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