On Wednesday May 12th and Thursday May 13th the East Hawai‘i Tūtū and Me Programs of Ola‘a and Pahoa visited a turtle and tortoise Ranch in Kea‘au Hawai‘i. While on the ranch, the children had the opportunity to see, feed, and ride tortoises that weighed up to 350 pounds! Tortoise Ranch owner Vicki Boening shared that if taken care of properly, these tortoises live up to 200 years and can grow up to 900 pounds! That’s as big as a huge oval shaped dining room table! When we arrived, Aunty Vicki first taught us some basic safety rules then showed all of us how to properly and gently feed her tortoises by dropping the fruit on the ground just far enough away so that they would give the children a ride on their shell. We brought bananas, apples, grapes, papayas, cabbage, and tomatoes—about 30 pounds of fruit each day and bite after bite, the turtles and tortoises ate them all! The children also fed some of her smallest turtles that fit in the palm of your hand. It was a memorable experience for all of us and the children had a blast!
Aunty Vicki is also the co-owner of the East Hawai‘i Veterinarian Center in Hilo. She has been raising her Tortoises for over 20 years. Aunty Vicki’s Turtle and Tortoise Ranch is located at her home in Puna where she generously opens it up to friends, neighbors, and children who wish to feed and pet her big and little friends, and of course……go on Tortoise rides!