Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications
UPDATE: The two hatchlings are now on view in the Day Exhibit!
Two critically endangered Egyptian tortoises hatched at the end of December and are being cared for by zookeepers behind the scenes at the Day Exhibit. Watch this video to see the tortoises at two weeks old exploring their surroundings.
This tiny desert-living tortoise is facing intense pressures in the wild. Despite its name, the Egyptian tortoise is actually now extinct in Egypt and only small populations remain in Libya. Habitat destruction and human encroachment have devastated the Egyptian tortoise’s native habitat, and the illegal international pet trade has nearly depleted wild populations.
The successful hatching at Woodland Park Zoo helps maintain genetic diversity and is part of our commitment to the conservation of this species. Since 2001 we have also supported the Egyptian Tortoise Conservation Program, a multidimensional program dedicated to habitat and species conservation, research, education, capacity building and improving community livelihood.
The conservation program addresses the habitat degradation and pet trade threats to wild tortoise populations by working closely with the Bedouin community, empowering them to patrol for wildlife collectors. It also engages the community in scientific research, collecting data to study the effectiveness of habitat restoration on tortoise populations. To help reduce the economic reliance on the pet trade, the conservation program operates a handicraft project that gives the larger local community an alternative, more sustainable source of income. Public outreach and visits to local schools help to raise awareness of tortoise conservation and generate a sense of conservation stewardship in the community and its future generations.
Want to help support Woodland Park Zoo and our conservation efforts around the globe? Text WPZ to 20222 to donate $5 to the zoo today. Messaging and data rates may apply. For details visit www.zoo.org/text2give.
Photos and video by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.