In our culture, it is considered impolite to ask someone how old they are, but in the zoo world things run a bit differently. A favorite game to play with guests is, “Guess how old this animal is.” For an animal with a lifespan of 15 years this is not a particularly difficult question. But, when it comes to tortoises that can live for over 100 years, this game can go on for hours. For the sake of brevity, we won’t make you play along this time. Celebrating his 90th birthday alongside the Sacramento Zoo is Herkimer, the Desert Tortoise!!!
Herkimer is the oldest animal in the Zoo, although we don’t know his exact birthdate. Herkimer was donated to the Zoo in 1991 by a family who has record of him joining them many years prior. During his time at the Zoo, Herkimer has become a fan favorite. He is most visible after a morning Wildlife Stage Show at an Animal Encounter, eating dandelions and blissfully ignoring visitors as they “race” after him, trying to get up close and personal. And it can get personal indeed: his excellent eyesight can be a hazard to freshly painted toenails! Like most tortoises, Herkimer is unable to pull his entire body into his shell, so the outermost parts are heavily protected by large scales. This is in contrast to the body parts that never leave the shell, which are soft and smooth to the touch.
In 2017 the Sacramento Zoo proudly celebrates its, and Herkimer’s 90th birthday. Please SAVE THE DATE for our BIG birthday celebration on Saturday, June 17.
With just 40 animals, “the little Zoo in the park” opened in 1927. Since then, the Sacramento Zoo has evolved into a place where visitors enjoy learning about nature and gaining personal connections to wildlife. Most of all, we are proud to be a place where animal welfare and conservation are a priority. We can’t wait to celebrate the past 90 years with you as we look forward to an exciting future!