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These two tortoises are Brookside's most popular reptilian residents

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One lives in the front yard and the other lives in the back, but both tortoises have found a home in Brookside.

Brookside is known for lots of things, like cool cafes, great restaurants and unique shops. But these days it’s the tortoises at 63rd and Oak that get a lot of attention.

Bill Kalahurka is the owner of two African spurred tortoises, named Tyrion and Tywin.

The African spurred is the world's largest mainland tortoise, easily reaching 30 inches (76 centimeters) in length and well over 100 pounds (45 kilograms) in weight. Some males even reach 200 pounds (90 kilograms).

The Kalahurkas adopted Tyrion from a reptile show back when his shell was no bigger than a softball. Now, Bill says, he weighs around 70 pounds, and his shell is nearly 2 feet long.

Tywin lives in the backyard. The Kalahurkas adopted Tywin in 2019 from an acquaintance who was moving and couldn’t keep him. Tywin is older, in his mid-20s, and less active.

Bill says he wishes he could keep them together, but their behavior doesn't allow it.

"It's not always the case, but it's fairly common for the male of these species to not get along," Kalahurka said. "When you put them in the same enclosure, they sort of butt heads and lock into each other."

The Kalahurkas invite visitors to stop by the family’s corner in Brookside and admire Tyrion and Tywin over the white picket fence.

Kalahurka says people of all ages stop by and ask questions about the tortoises.

"The tortoises are very popular," he said. "It's more and more recognition as time goes on."

  • Bill Kalahurka, owner of Tyrion and Tywin
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.