Meet the newest ‘star’ at Australia's Taronga Zoo! Not only is the hatchling an Indian Star tortoise, but this is only the second time Taronga’s reptile keepers have bred this species in 30 years. The little one hatched on January 24 from the only fertile egg in the clutch. At two weeks of age now, the hatchling is smaller than a 50 cent coin. By the time it reaches maturity it will weigh over 15 pounds (7 kilos) -- though that won’t be for six to 12 years, depending on its sex.
Looking at the youngster's shell now, you might wonder as to it's name, but as an adult it will have very distinctive star-like patterns across its high-domed shell.
Right from the start the hatchling was independent, but because it's so tiny, it’s being specially cared for behind the scenes by the keepers. Guests to Taronga's Reptile World will be able to see the adult Star tortoises on display and might even glimpse the hatchling’s three year old cousin which is just beginning to move in with the adults. In the wild, Star tortoises are threatened by hunting, habitat loss and their appeal in the pet trade.
More photos after the jump!