A UNIVERSITY of Bolton student shared his research into giant tortoises with an audience of experts at a national conference.

Sam Long spent two months studying the Giant African Spurred Tortoise at the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick.

The biology student gathered extensive data ab out the creatures at the park last summer, as part of a third-year project studying African Spurred Tortoises.

Sam, who graduated last month, spent around 120 hours studying the tortoises at the wildlife park, as part of an investigation into how colour affects their food choice and activity.

He used coloured cones to observe their use of space and foraging behaviours.

It is believed that tortoises have tetrachromatic vision and possess four independent channels for conveying colour information but little is known about how strongly developed this sense is and how much they use it in the wild.

Sam said: “It was fantastic to explore the exotic animals. It was an invaluable opportunity to learn more about animal behaviour and to collect first-hand evidence for my dissertation.”

The research was shared with an audience of around 120 zookeepers, wildlife professionals and academics at the annual BIAZA (British & Association of Zoos & Aquariums) Research Conference, at the Welsh Mountain Zoo earlier this month.

Sam said: “I was extremely honoured that my research was one of the studies being highlighted as part of the BIAZA Research Conference.”

The Lake District Wildlife Park is home to six Giant African Spurred Tortoises, which are the third-largest species of tortoise in the world and live to around 70 years old.

Frankie Kerridge, Biology lecturer at the University of Bolton, attended the conference and said: “It was a pleasure to present Sam’s research at the conference.

“Tortoises and other reptiles are often overlooked in favour of more charismatic animals but when you think about how long they live for it is important that we give them stimulating captive environments which will improve their welfare.”