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15 August 2020
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Biology student, Sam Long, shared his research into giant tortoises at the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). As part of a third-year project studying African Spurred Tortoises, Sam spent two months studying and gathering extensive data about the Giant African Spurred Tortoise at the Lake District Wildlife Park last summer.
Sam, who graduated last month, spent around 120 hours studying the tortoises, investigating into how colour affects their feeding habits. He used coloured cones to observe their use of space and foraging behaviours. It is believed that tortoises have a tetrachromatic vision and possess four independent channels for conveying colour information but little is known about how strongly developed this sense is and how much they use it in the wild.
Speaking about the project, Sam said: “It was fantastic to explore the exotic animals. It was an invaluable opportunity to learn more about animal behaviour and to collect first-hand evidence for my dissertation.”
Sam’s research was presented to an audience of around 120 zookeepers, wildlife professionals and academics at the annual BIAZA Research Conference, at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in early August.
Frankie Kerridge, Biology lecturer at the University of Bolton, attended the conference and said: “It was a pleasure to present Sam’s research at the conference. Tortoises and other reptiles are often overlooked in favour of more charismatic animals, but when you think about how long they live for, it is important that we give them stimulating captive environments which will improve their welfare.”