Sep 27, 2011 at 10:49am IST

Tortoises turn gay in zoo

HYDERABAD: Here’s something that is truly hair-raising. Two giant male tortoises, the pride of possession of the Nehru Zoological Park in the City, have turned gay. Yes, you read that right. And what’s their age,  you may ask. They are both octogenarians! One is 82 and the other is 80.
And the reasons for their abnormal behaviour, if one can call it that? “The two have been indulging in homosexual acts for two reasons. Firstly, they have been together for a long time and they do not have a female companion,” explains Dr B Srinivas, veterinary assistant surgeon at the zoo park.
Classified as giant tortoises, the two naughty ones weigh 105 kg each and are 1.5 mts in length and 0.75 mts in height. Srinivas says homosexual behaviour is not uncommon among animals. “If they are together for a long time without proper female companionship, they tend to turn gay or lesbian as the case may be. It is not a surprise that the two male tortoises are involved in homosexuality,” he points out.
The Nehro Zoo Park doesn’t have a giant female tortoise. “I have been trying to get a female tortoise to our zoo. But I could not find any in any zoo in India. I am looking for a female tortoise outside India,” says M Mallikarjun, AP Zoos Director.
The two tortoises, natives of Galapagos Islands, West of Ecuador, have been in the zoo almost since its inception in 1963. When there was no Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the then zoo curator Pushpa Kumar reportedly bought the two giant male tortoises in1969 in New Delhi where exotic species were sold in those days for Rs 8,000, the zoo records reveal.
Mallikarjun is optimistic that he may procure a female tortoise from abroad soon with the help of the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI).