Columbian Park Zoo saying goodbye to its 70-year-old tortoise

Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette is saying goodbye to one of its oldest and beloved animals.

Posted: May 17, 2018 4:00 PM
Updated: May 17, 2018 4:05 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette is saying goodbye to one of its oldest and beloved animals.
Boxie the Galapagos Tortoise has been greeting guests at the zoo since 2009. Boxie, who zookeepers believe is in her early 70's and weighs a little more than 200 pounds, will be moving to the Akron Zoo in Ohio.

Friday, the zoo will host a Bon Voyage party for Boxie. It will take place from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. in The Americas area. All activities will be free and open to the public. The Zoo will also be celebrating National Endangered Species Day during this time. To commemorate the occasion and support the cause, Columbian Park Zoo will provide special family-friendly activities in The Bill and Donna DeFouw Education Center.

Boxie came to the zoo in September 2009, on loan from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. The Galapagos tortoise Species Survival Plan has recommended that Boxie move on to the Akron Zoo in Akron, Ohio to become a companion animal to another lone female Galapagos tortoise residing at that facility.

“Zoos share a common mission regarding wildlife conservation and animal welfare and this
recommendation by the Species Survival Plan is a great demonstration of the cooperativeness
working towards those goals,” says Noah Shields, Assistant Zoo Director. “It is sometimes
difficult for individual zoos and aquariums to have enough available resources to help save all of
the animal species that we want. By sharing our resources across facilities and supporting each
other, we can make a larger impact for more species.”

Columbian Park Zoo Head Zookeeper, Heather Woody, adds, “Boxie has been a personal
favorite of mine since I started working here eight years ago. Her favorite activities include
playing in the sprinkler and receiving scratches on the neck. The staff at Columbian Park Zoo
will miss her greatly, but we are excited to meet and care for the new Galapagos tortoises. I feel
extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a remarkable endangered species
right here in Lafayette.”

Columbian Park Zoo will be welcoming two new Galapagos tortoises on loan from Gladys Porter Zoo. Each weighs around 30 pounds and is approximately nine years old. These animals are currently undergoing a routine quarantine period and Zoo staff hopes to have them out on display by early summer.

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