If the turtle you spot in our Zoo looks particularly good for their age, well, they just might be doing pretty well for their age too!
In a new study published in the journal Science, researchers used data from Brevard Zoo along with other zoos and aquariums to learn more about 52 species of turtles and tortoises. The data recorded by our Zoo in the Species360 Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) helped researchers discover that turtles and tortoises may reduce the rate of aging when their environment is improved.
We use ZIMS as a way to record important data about our animal residents such as weights, ages, offspring and more along with observations by our animal care staff on their wellbeing and activities. Much of this information is available to other zoos and aquariums who use ZIMS.
Evolutionary theories of aging predict that all living organisms weaken and deteriorate with age, a process called senescence, and eventually die. Thanks to the information collected from our Zoo and other facilities, researchers from the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance and the University of Southern Denmark found that certain animal species, such as turtles and tortoises, may have slower or even absent senescence when their living conditions improve.
Out of 52 turtle and tortoise species, 75% show extremely slow senescence, while 80% have slower senescence than modern humans.
“We find that some of these species can reduce their rate of aging in response to the improved living conditions found in zoos and aquariums, compared to the wild,” said study co-author, Prof. Dalia Conde, Species360 Director of Science, Head of the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance.
“In addition, modern zoological organizations play an important role in conservation, education and research, and this study shows the immense value of zoos and aquariums keeping records for the advancement of science.”
We are home to quite a few turtles and tortoises who are estimated to be older (although not elderly for a turtle or tortoise)! You can check in on Capone the alligator snapping turtle and Killer the Gulf Coast box turtle, who are estimated to be 56 and 58 years old respectively, in our Wild Florida loop. Or, say hi to our African spurred tortoises, 26-year-old Sahara in Paws On and 34-year-old Tate in Lands of Change.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.