Mr Pickles, a 90-year-old radiated tortoise, is the father of three hatchlings following a surprise egg-laying at the Houston Zoo.
According to a statement shared with Storyful, a herpetology keeper happened upon radiated tortoise Mrs Pickles, Mr Pickles’ companion, as she was laying eggs at closing time.
It is unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own if the keeper hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, the statement added, as “the soil in Houston isn’t hospitable to the Madagascar native tortoises.”
The statement said Mr Pickles is the oldest animal at the Houston Zoo, and the newest father, after the three eggs hatched.
Mr and Mrs Pickles have been together since she arrived in 1996, but the pair have only birthed one “little Pickle” previously, in 1997, the zoo said.
Footage shared with Storyful shows the new hatchlings, named Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeno, walking around in an enclosure at the zoo.
According to the statement, the baby tortoises will remain behind the scenes until they are big enough to safely join their parents’ enclosure.
Credit: Kevin Kendrick/Houston Zoo via Storyful