Everything begins in a tupperware box in a wardrobe... if you are a baby tortoise. The giant tortoises at the breeding center are all kept inside a big wardrobe in plastic boxes filled with sand. Their temperature is carefully maintained by a complex system of hairdryers. Curiously this is exactly how my temperature was maintained when heaters were outlawed at a studio I once rented.
The eggs are kept at very precise temperatures between 29 and 32 degrees Celsius because a significant drop or rise can be fatal. You can also determine the gender of the hatchlings this way. At the cooler end of the range you get more males, at the warmer end more females.
They can take up to two weeks to make it out of their shells! Slow Loris would be impressed.
When they've grown up a bit they get transferred to little corrals. They have identity numbers painted on their backs. Like Slow Loris they mostly just hang around doing nowt.
That is until feeding day comes along... then they burst into a frenzy of activity. They can really motor, these little guys! In interviews about my trip I have said that they look like a mini demolition derby, what with the corral, the numbers and all. Can't think of a better way to describe it now. There were certainly plenty of crashes and pile ups.