After years of searching for the one, the world’s most famous tortoise Hugo the Galapagos tortoise finally met his girlfriend Estrella in October 2021 after she arrived from Germany. Flashforward nine months and staff at the Australian Reptile Park are turtle-y egg-cited by Estrella showing follicle development meaning she is ready to breed very soon!

Hugo and Estrella became world-wide news back in 2019 when keepers at the Australian Reptile Park put Hugo on Tinder in hopes to find a mate for the eligible bachelor. Zoo Rostock in Germany saw this and put forward their gorgeous female Estrella.

Since Estrella’s arrival from Germany, Park staff have been keeping a close eye on Estrella as she adjusts to life in Australia. Last week, keepers noticed a change in Estrella behaviour and with her wellbeing and health at the forefront of everyone’s minds, she was taken to the vet for assessment. Upon an ultrasound being performed, it was discovered that inside her ovaries where something quite unexpected was found – the beginnings of healthy follicles.

Jake Meney, Head of Reptiles at the Australian Reptile Park said, “I couldn’t be more excited for Estrella! The presence of these follicles is positive for Estrella, both as an indicator of her mental and physical wellbeing and for her reproductive health.”

Meney continued, “Now we know what caused Estrella’s shift in behaviour, we can monitor and change her care to align with her needs as she enters mating age. Estrella’s doing really well, and I am so happy with how she has progressed since arriving at the Australian Reptile Park! We are certainly hoping this leads to the pitter patter of tiny tortoise feet in the next year or two!”

Estrella is due for another ultrasound in a couple of weeks, which will give final confirmation to whether she is ready to mate with her partner Hugo.

Hugo and Estrella are paired as part of Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia’s prescribed species breeding program. Hugo has called the Australian Reptile Park near Gosford, just north of Sydney, home since 1963 after arriving at the Central Coast wildlife park as an infant.  He has now reached middle age (at the age of 71) and is ready to settle down with his 22-year-old girlfriend. At 181kg he is fully grown and one of the Australian Reptile Park’s most popular animals.