Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Last week I volunteered at the Oakland Zoo, and got assigned to help out with the giant tortoises. Please forgive the fact that I am featured in both of these photos - it is useful for scale, though I know the world does not need to see what I look like in Carhartts.

This lady is an Aldabra Giant Tortoise, from the Seychelles. There were three in the enclosure, and since they all look pretty much alike, I do not know this particular one's name. So I am going to call her Bertha. Bertha pretty much just sat there while I worked in her area, though she did retract her neck a little when I raked close to her. Sorry, Bertha.

The dude below, however, was a pretty sprightly guy - perhaps because he weighs a few hundred pounds less than Bertha. His name is Pokey, and he was donated to the zoo by a couple who had kept him for 48 years. He had a dog door so he could come and go into their house as he pleased, and he would hibernate under their bed during the winter. The zookeeper (who was about 60, and had purple hair and a nose ring and a big tattoo of an elephant on her calf) called him her boyfriend. He climbed into her lap and chilled there for a while.

He didn't climb into my lap, but I tried not to take it personally. While it would have been cool to shovel elephant poop or whatever other volunteers do, I did enjoy the tortoise bonding time.

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