Thursday 12 March 2020

Critically endangered snapping turtle program breeds hope for survival

Wed 11 Mar 2020 06.33 GMT

Ninety per cent of Bellinger River snapping turtle adult population was wiped out but Australia’s Taronga Zoo is breeding numbers back up

The Bellinger River snapping turtle is one of the rarest turtles on the planet after a virus wiped out more than 90% of the adult population in 2015, but a captive breeding program is bringing hope that a healthy population can be restored in the wild.

Thirty-five turtles have hatched at the special breeding facility at Taronga Zoo since the beginning of this year.

The turtles are being housed in a nursery facility where they are fed and keepers monitor their health and growth.

“We release as many back into the wild as possible but some will stay in the breeding program,” said Adam Skidmore, Taronga Zoo’s senior reptile keeper.

“In the river there are still some smaller ones growing up but they don’t start breeding until the age of 11 or 12, so, until that happens, we breed here so we can supplement the population.

“Hopefully one day they can self-sustain. That’s the goal.”

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