Wild Animal Wednesday: Meet the African Spurred Tortoise!

Wild Animal Wednesdays - A Ride on the Wild Side

PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (WRBL) – Come take a ride on the wild side! Every Wednesday on News 3 This Morning, News 3’s Blake Eason takes you on a ride through Wild Animal Safari – a Pine Mountain theme park.

On the next stop of our safari adventure we return to the Walk About Adventure Zoo to meet Shelby the African Spurred Tortoise.

General Manager Katie Harrison says Shelby is 10 years old and they received her through the gift of adoption.

“We got Shelby about four years ago,” said Harrison. “She used to be somebody’s pet. They decided they couldn’t take care of her any longer, so they donated her here.”

Harrison says Shelby’s diet at Wild Animal Safari consist of romaine lettuce, in the wild it’s a little different.

“Typically, they eat a lot of grass,” said Harrison. “Now they do live in the desert, naturally in Africa. So whatever type of vegetation, they can find a lot of cactuses and things like cacti.”

Coming in as the third largest tortoise in the world and weighing in at about 100 pounds, contrary to popular belief Harrison says Shelby is the furthest thing from slow.

“I don’t think Shelby is slow by any means,” said Harrison. “No, now they do tend to move a little bit slower than other species. But when they’re motivated, they can go for you.”

In addition to their sheer size, Harrison says one of her favorite things about the tortoise is their protective nature while in the wild.

“They also are very important to their ecosystem in Africa,” said Harrison. “They like to dig burrows. And so in the desert, those burrows create a habitat for not only them, but also other species as well, like little lizards, other things that don’t make it home and make that a safe spot for them.”

Not only is Shelby a popular visit in the Walkabout Adventure Zoo, Harrison says because of her cool and calm demeanor, she’s also an animal ambassador.

Animal Ambassadors at Wild Animal Safari are specific animals available for off-site adventures such as school visits for educational purposes.

Guided tours are available for park visitors who would like to learn more about all the animals along the safari and within the Walkabout Adventure Zoo.

Wild Animal Safari is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2021 and as part of that celebration the park is teaming up with News 3 for “Wild Animal Wednesdays – A Ride on the Wild Side.” The park is located at 1300 Oak Grove Road in Pine Mountain, Georgia, and the 300-acre park is home to 75 animal species. For more information on Wild Animal Safari, including how to plan your visit and purchase tickets, go to https://animalsafari.com.

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