After years of searching for the one, the world’s most famous tortoise – Hugo the Galapagos tortoise has finally met his new girlfriend, Estrella. The meeting comes just in time for the Australian Reptile Park’s reopening after almost 4 months in lockdown.

Coming all the way from Zoo Rostock Germany is Estrella the Galapagos tortoise, a beautiful 21-year-old female who Hugo met after the Australian Reptile Park put him on dating app Tinder back in 2019. The introduction exceeded all expectations with the pair not leaving each other’s side since the moment they met.

Estrella was due to arrive in early 2020, but due to complications in travel and COVID-19, it was put off until she could safely reach Australian shores. She arrived at the Australian Reptile Park in June and was held in mandatory quarantine for three months until their historic meeting this week.

Daniel Rumsey, Head of Reptiles at the Australian Reptile Park said, “I couldn’t be more excited for Hugo! He’s been looking for a mate for some time now so to see the two of them together finally is honestly one of the best things I’ve witnessed in my life!”

The pair have been waiting patiently to meet for the first time and whilst Estrella spent her three months in quarantine, Hugo and Estrella were able to see each other via a series of FaceTime dates set up by their keepers. The introduction was undertaken under the watchful eyes of their loving keepers with months of preparation to ensure everything went according to plan.

During lockdown, the Australian Reptile Park did not waste the downtime without visitors, the wildlife sanctuary utilised the time upgrading the Galapagos Tortoise Exhibit to ensure Estrella has the most comfortable and incredible new home as possible.

Rumsey continued, “Hugo’s got a bit of an extra bounce in his step now and we can now sigh with relief since the lovers have met! I can already tell they are in love; they haven’t left each other since they met. Who knows, maybe within the next few years we will have some baby Galapagos tortoises!”

Hugo and Estrella are paired as part of Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia’s prescribed species breeding program. There are plans for the tortoises to breed within the next five years, with hopes that the pitter patter of tiny tortoise feet will be heard around the Australian Reptile Park.

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 70) and is ready to settle down. At 181kg he is fully grown and one of the Australian Reptile Park’s most popular animals.

After reopening on Monday 11 October, visitors to the Australian Reptile Park are able to see Hugo and Estrella on exhibit every day as well as get up close and personal with Hugo on his daily walks.