Rare albino Galapagos giant tortoise faces the world

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SERVION, Switzerland, June 3 (Reuters) - A rare albino Galapagos giant tortoise made its public debut at a Swiss zoo on Friday.

Two of the tortoises were born last month at the Tropiquarium in the western town of Servion as part of a programme to preserve the endangered species.

One is black like its parents and the other is albino. Their gender has yet to be determined.

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"This is the first time in the world that an albino Galapagos tortoise has been born and kept in captivity. No albino individuals have ever been observed in the wild," the zoo said in a statement.

The mother, who weighs more than 100 kilograms (220 lb), laid five eggs on Feb. 11 and the albino baby hatched on May 1. The other baby hatched on May 5 after the eggs spent two-and-a-half months in an incubator.

The male weighs around 180 kg. The pair are about 30 years old and have just reached sexual maturity.

The success rate of mating is only around 2%-3% for this species. Baby turtles weigh about 50 grams at birth and fit in the palm of the hand.

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Reporting by Denis Balibouse, writing by Michael Shields; editing by Barbara Lewis

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