In a GIANT day for a special tortoise at the Australian Reptile Park, beloved resident Estrella the Galapagos tortoise has a lot of candles to blow out today as she hits the massive milestone of turning 22 years old! The day was full of celebration, with keepers presenting her with a delicious cake featuring her favourite snack – prickly pear!

The cake was presented to Estrella by Keeper Jett and she excitedly (and… very… slowly) approached it before devouring it as quick as she could manage. Prickly pear is a special and rare treat for Estrella, and keepers are looking forward to gifting her this treat for all of her birthdays to come. After the cake, Estrella went on her daily walk to receive more pats and love from visitors who came to the Australian Reptile Park to say happy birthday to one of its most famous residents.

Estrella arrived at the Australian Reptile Park back in October 2021 after the Park’s famous tortoise, Hugo, was put on dating app Tinder back in 2019. She was meant to arrive in early 2020, however due to complications in travel and COVID-19 restrictions, her arrival was delayed. Estrella came all the way from Zoo Rostock Germany, and since then, Hugo and Estrella have been inseparable life partners.

Head of Reptiles, Jake Meney explains “Anyone who meets Estrella knows she is not your regular tortoise. She is full of personality and will greet anyone with a big smile! I love working with her and watching everyone’s faces light up when they see her for the first time.” Mr Meney continues, “I always say if you didn’t give Estrella’s shell a rub, you haven’t visited the Australian Reptile Park! It really does give you good luck!”

Visitors can see Estrella at the Australian Reptile Park every single day during the school holidays and even accompany Estrella on her daily walk. Guests looking for a more personal experience can book a Behind the Scenes tour where they can meet Hugo & Estrella, enter their enclosure, feed them, and give lots of pats.

Back in July, a health check up revealed that Estrella was showing signs of follicular development, meaning she would be ready for breeding in the near future. Since Hugo and Estrella are paired as part of Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia’s prescribed species breeding program, there is hope that Estrella will be able to mate with her boyfriend Hugo, become a mum and staff at the Park will hear the pitter patter of tiny tortoise feet.

The Galapagos tortoise’s diet consists of any green vegetation they can find, along with fibrous vegetation such as grass, tree bark and cacti. In captivity the tortoises will eat carrots, bamboo stalks, hibiscus leaves and flowers, Lucerne hay and other foods that are high in fibre with the odd piece of fruit as a treat.