After more than two decades of waiting, endangered Indian narrow-headed Softshell Turtles have finally been bred at San Diego Zoo. This is the first time that the species has been recorded reproducing at a North American zoo.
In a Monday news release, the San Diego Zoo announced that 41 turtle softshell babies were hatching.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed turtles as endangered. They are a native species of south Asia. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, their population has been declining rapidly due to habitat loss and hunting. However, data is not available and it’s unclear how many turtles remain in the wild.
According to the release, conservationists at the Zoo have waited over 20 years for the three Indian narrow-headed softshell Turtles to breed. The turtles can take up to ten years to reach sexual maturity. They also cover their nests in dirt which makes it difficult for staff at the zoo to find them.
According to the release, Zoo staff found two nests that contained 41 eggs. Some of the eggs had already been hatched in the turtle habitat. The rest were moved to an artificial nest incubator, where staff could monitor their progress.
Kim Gray, San Diego Zoo’s curator for herpetology/ichthyology said in a news release that “This is an exciting moment for us at San Diego Zoo, as well as an incredible step forward towards the conservation of the species.” “We have been focusing on caring for these turtles for a long time. Part of that care is to better understand the species’ natural history.
“We can help our Indian partners to help these important species thrive in their natural habitats with the knowledge that we have gained here at the Zoo.”
At the moment, newborn turtles can fit comfortably in your palm. They will grow to be three-and-a-half feet tall by the time they are adults and can eat fish, frogs, and crustaceans.