Vic turtle and tortoise mark milestones

MELBOURNE TERRY THE TURTLE MILESTONETurtles and tortoises may share a confusing likeness, but the lives of two of the species’ most prominent Melbourne residents are distinctively different.
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In fact, as one giant land-based tortoise celebrates its 1960s arrival in the city, a small water-loving turtle is making flipper-sized strides in its preparation to wave goodbye.

The turtle, known as Terry, is inching closer to his long-awaited sea return and was put through his paces at Melbourne Aquarium on Wednesday morning.

Flanked by divers, Terry swam practice laps around a 2.2 million-litre tank in the presence of other aquatic animals ahead of his release back into the wild at Mallacoota in early February.

The little green sea turtle, estimated to be about five years old, has called the Victorian aquarium home since August while being nursed back to strength after washing ashore on a Rye beach in poor health.

“Though it will be sad to wave goodbye, Terry’s release is the moment that our dedicated aquarists and veterinary staff have worked towards over the last six months,” exhibit manager Tereza Todd said, noting his weight had doubled while in care.

Across town and a few hours later Melbourne Zoo commemorated the 53rd anniversary of giant tortoise Wilbur being welcomed to his iconic home.

Wilbur, estimated to be about 87, has been a zoo staple since arriving from Seychelles as a Mauritius government gift in 1965.

Using fruit, zoo staff spelled out ‘1965’ atop a lucerne hay ‘cake’ for the mammoth 190kg-plus creature to devour while using the opportunity to measure his enormous 150cm shell.

Unlike his genetic cousin Terry, Wilbur has no plans for a slow-moving seachange with keepers confident he’ll likely call the zoo home for another 80 years.

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