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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
Knoxville Zoo "Al Cam" Offers a Giant Tortoise's Perspective on Love
View Cam
Knoxville Zoo
June 3, 2011 - Knoxville Zoo invites fans of Al, one of the zoo's giant Aldabra tortoises, to pick up a few pointers from a real ladies man on Friday, June 3, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Viewers can watch Al woo his new lady friends from his point of view via the "Al Cam", a tiny wireless video camera attached to his shell with Velcro™. The video will stream in real time on the Knoxville News Sentinel's Web site at www.knoxnews.com/zoo/tortoise/.

Tortoises at the ZooLast week, Al and his buddy Tex were introduced to two comely female tortoises named Patches and Corky who are visiting Knoxville on a breeding loan. The last time Al had a lady companion was in 1983, and it's estimated that Tex hasn't been with a female tortoise since the late 1980s. As soon as Al entered the exhibit with the girls, he immediately put the moves on Patches and sparks flew.

"The "Al Cam" will give viewers the chance to get a rarely seen glimpse into the courtship and breeding of giant tortoises from Al's perspective," says Michael Ogle, assistant curator of herpetology and the lead matchmaker. "Because they are so rarely bred in the U.S., we want to make sure zoo visitors have the chance to continue seeing Aldabra giant tortoises. And everyone loves a good romance story where the guy gets the girl."

Only one other zoo in the U.S. is currently breeding Aldabra tortoises. In the wild, Aldabra tortoises are found in only one place in the world, which is the Aldabra Atoll, located about 300 miles northwest of Madagascar. They are classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN). Their numbers dwindled to only about 1,000 in the late 19th century due to excessive harvesting for food by ships passing the island, but have since begun to rebound over the last century thanks to conservation efforts.

Special thanks to the Knoxville News Sentinel for their help with this special project.

Knoxville ZooKnoxville Zoo is Knoxville's largest year-round attraction. Located off exit 392A from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Nextday admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331 ext. 300 or visit www.knoxvillezoo.org.
For Immediate Release
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