The Texas Tortoise is a threatened species and Houston native Kelly Norrid is doing all that he can to save them.
“The Texas Tortoise is our only native tortoise species,” said Norrid, who works as a biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. “It’s the smallest of North American tortoises. It’s about 8 to 9 inches long.”
The tortoises are threatened due to a loss of habitat, contact with cars on roads, and people collecting them, which is against the state law. Norrid legally possesses five of the tortoises, mainly because most have been confiscated from those without permits, and has been searching to give the tortoises proper care.
“As long as I can get them to a good place where I know that they can be taken care of, and that is properly permitted to have them, that was the whole go of this,” said Norrid.
The Abilene Zoo contacted Norrid in late October about their desire to house the tortoises.
“The Texas Tortoise that we will be acquiring will be used as part of our educational programing,” said Bill Gersonde, Executive Director of the Abilene Zoo.
The problem Norrid faces now is how to get the requested number of tortoises to Abilene safely.
“I’m very uncomfortable with shipping these animals, its basically if you send FedEx,” said Norrid.
“It’s always a challenge to move an animal from one location to another, whether its a desert tortoise that you can hold in your hand or a full grown giraffe,” said Gersonde.
Norrid recently received the necessary permission to deliver the tortoises to the Abilene Zoo, so the only question now remains when and how.
“We’ll work with them to see potentially meeting halfway, us potentially going down there, or them coming up here,” said Gersonde. “The animal does need to be transported in a climate controlled vehicle.”