A new VIP guest has just checked into the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, and he’s not likely to check out any time soon. His name is Scooter, and he’s a 15-year-old African Spurred Tortoise who could live to be more than 150 years old.
The ward of the Mobile Zoo of the Desert for the last decade, Scooter had grown too large to remain part of the organization’s petting zoo. A new permanent home had to be found, and so—thanks to the efforts of the Westin’s Director of Fun, Dennis Borja—the resort built a special exterior enclosure in a cool and shaded area between the Las Brisas swimming pool and signature restaurant Pinzimini, and then opened its arms wide to welcome Scooter.
Born on April 3, 1999, Scooter is a member of the third-largest species of tortoise in the world. Native to the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in North Africa, Scooter’s genus provides living proof that reptiles like him can and do thrive in a hot, dry setting such as the Coachella Valley. When it gets too hot, these tortoises burrow in sand and are able to dig up to 10 feet deep. Scooter could ultimately weigh between 100 and 200 pounds, and is an herbivore who lives on a very strict vegetarian diet. Right now, he’s basically just your average growing teenaged boy.
While kids of all ages are urged to visit Scooter, rules stipulate that resort guests not feed him, that they be quiet and polite (due to his shyness), and that nothing be thrown into his den. Come fall, Scooter will play a starring role in the Westin Kids Club, where participants will be treated to talks about the tortoise and the desert environment. Until then, Scooter will keep enjoying summer vacation in his new lair. Be sure to swing by the resort and give him a warm “Hello!”