EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Al, an 85-year-old Aldabra giant tortoise from Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek recently made his way to East Lansing for a doctor’s appointment.

He needed a CT scan of his front left foot.

The veterinary staff at the zoo have been tending to an infection in that foot since 2018. Reptiles are slow healers, so it has been a long journey. Over time, the issue of the bone infection seemed to have been solved, but Al was still experiencing flare-ups that required more attention.

Al made a trip to the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in December 2021 so staff could further evaluate the infection in his toenail. After reviewing the CT exam, veterinarians found the bone infection to be reoccurring.

This was Al’s third CT exam. The first two were conducted at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, which has a CT machine huge enough to fit the 600-pound tortoise.

“Collaborating with the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine on zoo cases is a win-win for both the zoo and the school. It allows us to provide our animals with an advanced level of care and it’s also an opportunity for veterinary residents and students to get hands-on experience with a non-traditional species. After all, it’s not every day that the anesthesia residents get to monitor a 600-pound tortoise.”

Dr. Kim Thompson, Binder Park Zoo’s Staff Veterinarian and assistant professor at MSU College of Veterinary Medicine

Al will likely require another trip to MSU in the upcoming months.

Binder Park Zoo says it is grateful to the college’s clinical team for sharing their diagnostic equipment and experience to help care for the tortoise. It said their help is key in making sure Al continues to heal.

Binder Park Zoo says it is hopeful Al will make a comeback soon, as he is very popular with visitors.

Aldabra tortoises are native to one of the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, according to the Smithsonian, and can live more than 100 years. Their population is considered vulnerable.