Springwatch host Michaela Strachan met a star in the making when she came face to face with world speed record-breaking tortoise Bertie.
The wildlife and children’s presenter was at Adventure Valley in County Durham to unveil the latest stage of the visitor attraction’s £250,000 investment.
Popular resident Bertie - who earlier this month stormed into the Guinness Book of Records by completing a specially-built 18ft course in just 19.59 seconds - was keen for another share of the limelight.
Nicknamed “the Usain Bolt of the animal world” by Adventure Valley’s owner Marco Calzini, Bertie was one of the residents out to greet Michaela yesterday when she arrived to officially open the 60-acre site’s new Indoor Farmyard animal centre and Showtime Theatre which form part of its investment in indoor facilities.
The popular presenter, also known for Countryfile and Michaela Strachan’s Really Wild Adventures - her children’s show and book of fun, factual animal rhymes - is mum to nine-year-old Oliver and said: “I’ve really been looking forward to coming to Adventure Valley in Durham. It looks like a young child’s paradise, so much to do! My son would love it here.”
She also performed one of her Really Wild Adventures in the new theatre, bringing to life - in poem form - “some of the adventures I’ve had whilst filming wildlife”.
“It tells you how to do polar bear dentistry, why you should never try to out-spit a spitting cobra, and what bonnetheads, nurses and soupfins have in common.”
Bertie, whose keepers arranged to have his extraordinary speed officially tested after it was first noticed by visitors, was out on the donut toboggan track.
Strachan also got up close and personal with fellow residents such as alpacas and Kune Kune pigs who will be calling the Indoor Farmyard home.
Adventure Valley hosts daily sessions offering visitors a chance to cuddle rabbits, groom a pony and meet rats.
The four-year-old centre’s investment in indoor facilities, which has created six new staff jobs, will also see the creation of a Wild West themed indoor soft play area and new reptile enclosure.