Wildlife World Zoo, Litchfield Park, AZ

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You Me and Mr T

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Sarah and I went to the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, AZ, this past Sunday. We've seen youtube videos of their sulcatas, so we decided to make the trip out there for a visit. Overall, we were pretty happy with the zoo. They had an awesome aquarium and tons of animals.

However, we were a little concerned about their sulcatas. They have three separate sulcata exhibits. The main attraction for us was their large sulcatas. They have about 7-8 large (20"-30" SCL) adults together in ~2000 sq ft pen (wooden posts, dirt, mud, grass). They have a huge underground burrow network that can accommodate all of the tortoises. There was one huge tree that provided some shade to part of the pen. Other than that. there were no other shelters or heaters. How can they not have heaters?

The second exhibit was in the "touch" "petting zoo" area. They had about 10 smaller sulcatas in a ~1000 sq ft. pen. People are allowed to enter the pen and touch their shells. They aren't supposed to touch their head or feet or pick them up, but nobody was really enforcing this. I'm sure kids pick them up all the time. The pen had no grass or water!!! They did have a heated enclosure that had a lock for night time. I saw at least three sets of tortoises mating. This involved a lot of bullying from the males.

The third exhibit was for two babies, probably 3-4 inches. The glass cage had one heat lamp, no shelter, no water, and an alfalfa pellet substrate. One of the little guys was already pyramiding. There was a mixture of food in the glass tank. Mostly red veggies (maybe tomatoes). Maybe the green stuff was already eaten?

Anyhow, Sarah and I are still pretty new to sulcatas, but we feel as though we have a good understanding of the basics. A lot of what we saw concerned us. I'm sure some of these tortoises were rescues that were in bad shape when the zoo got them, but the condition of their enclosures is entirely on the zoo. Shouldn't a huge zoo like this know how to care for their animals?

~Jason
 

-ryan-

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Zoos don't always provide the best care for their animals.
 

Stephanie Logan

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Geez, that would be very upsetting to see a zoo, that presumably employs or at least consults with zoologists and herpetologists, providing such marginal care for their tortoises.

I wonder if you should call or email the zoo director with your concerns? If you are polite and sincerely distressed, I would think he/she would take a few minutes to read some care sheets or research on the internet a bit, and then review and assess the zoo's current care policies and make changes if necessary.
 
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