Giant Dallas Zoo Tortoise Completes 16-Month Hospital Stay

The 285 lb Galapagos tortoise, named '12', was being treated for a rear leg wound

There's a big homecoming party planned Thursday morning at the Dallas Zoo for one 285 lb resident.

A Galapagos tortoise named "12" has spent the past 16 months undergoing treatment for a leg wound at the zoo’s A.H. Meadows Animal Health Care Facility.

Twelve will return to his habitat in ZooNorth with the zoo’s six other Galapagos tortoises at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The Dallas Zoo staff is throwing a "Welcome Home" party for 12, complete with a banner and a cake.

NBC DFW featured 12 in a report back in spring 2017 during a visit to the veterinary facility.

At the time, Dr. Chris Bonar, Senior Director of Animal Services at the Dallas Zoo, was just beginning treatment of what had been reported as “lameness” of one of his rear legs.

“He was dragging his back leg,” said Shanna Fredlake, a reptile keeper at Dallas Zoo, in May. “He literally was making almost like tire tracks. We could see he was dragging his whole body.”

The giant tortoise made quite the entrance to the examination room – it took four members of the zoo staff to push 12 across the facility, along with the aid of a four-wheeled cart and 12’s front legs helping to shuffle along.

“Most of these guys are not easy to move if they don’t want to move,” Fredlake said about 12, who will likely grow to 600 lbs one day.

Dr. Bonar did an X-ray that day and determined that 12 had not broken any bones and had, instead, suffered a soft tissue injury.

But 12 has been in the hospital ever since.

“Due to the location and the nature of the wound, and the slow healing rate for reptiles in general, 12’s case proved to be challenging but Dallas Zoo’s animal care team gave him the expert care he needed to fully heal,” a zoo spokesperson said in a statement.

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