Kathy Vause, a senior reptile keeper, got a surprise when she went into the tortoise exhibit early Tuesday and discovered four recently hatched babies in a buried nest. A more precocious fifth hatchling was found short while later, already having ventured out into the exhibit.

Vause decided to check Tuesday to see if Alberta, the zoo’s galapagos female, recently had laid eggs. Instead of eggs, she found hatchlings ready to roll.

“She snuck them in on us,” Vause said.

These are the first successful Galapagos hatches ever at Riverbanks and the first babies from two Santa Cruz tortoise parents ever in a U.S. zoo.

Read more: http://www.thestate.com/2011/11/17/2049955/surprise-for-100-year-old-tortoise.html#ixzz1eQT9mlox

Holy turtle found on day of the rapture!

While there has not yet been a second coming of Christ (as of this writing) on this day of Rapture, there was at least one holy sign for the faithful to embrace in northwest suburban Streamwood.

A printing company employee out on her break picked up a tiny turtle and was immediately struck by its markings.

“Right away, to her it resembled the Virgin Mary,” said Ronnie Chavez in retelling his mom’s Saturday morning tale.

The painted turtle — about the size of a half-dollar — was wandering across the parking lot. Chavez’s mother, Gricelda, intended to move it to the safety of a pond, but the turtle flipped over when she reached down, revealing the pattern on the bottom of its shell.

“It caused a big stir. [Co-workers] came over. They were taking pictures,” said Chavez.

The reptile, now nicknamed Holy Turtle, was taken home and is temporarily living in a new container and has been offered a bit of food.

“I honestly don’t make too much of it. It’s a coincidence of the pattern, but my mom is a little bit more religious — Catholic. She’s not taking it too serious, but of course it’s kind of a big deal,” said Chavez.

The date of the find is not lost on his family.

“I just thought it was kind of funny since today was supposed to be the big Doomsday,” he said.