Image: "Terry," an Aldabra tortoise.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo workers George Buehner, left, and Travis Vineyard, right, hoist 400lb "Terry" (formerly "Mary"), onto a scale with help from keeper Mitch Zverina, back.
updated 11/18/2009 11:31:44 AM ET 2009-11-18T16:31:44

Zookeepers in Cleveland are the ones feeling slow because after more than 50 years, the tortoise they called "Mary" is actually a male.

Officials at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo say it can be tough to establish the sex of a giant Aldabra tortoise because the reproductive organs normally aren't visible. But Mary's maleness was unexpectedly revealed earlier this month during a routine exam.

Spokesman Tom O'Konowitz said Wednesday that the zoo has decided to rename the tortoise Terry.

When the 400-pound (180-kilogram) reptile arrived at the zoo in 1955, it was assumed he was a she because of a flatter shell, shorter tail and all-around smaller size than most males.

The tortoise is estimated to be between 75 and 100 years old.

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