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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Black-breasted leaf turtle flips for its meal!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Last year, Day Exhibit keeper Alyssa Borek took this footage of a black breasted leaf turtle tasting a hibiscus flower. It was pretty adorable. More recently, keeper Peter Miller captured this video of a very acrobatic black-breasted leaf turtle dining on an elusive meal worm. Go get ‘em!



In the wild, black-breasted leaf turtles eat various invertebrates, such as insects, worms, and grubs. They also eat decaying fruit found on the forest floor and venture into streams to collect insect larvae. At the zoo, the turtles dine primarily on insects with occasional fruits, vegetables and sometimes flowers. The black-breasted leaf turtle is one of the smallest in the world, at about five inches long. They have a unique and beautiful shell with rough edges which resemble a leaf.

Black-breasted leaf turtle are in danger, and you can help! They are listed as endangered due to habitat destruction and over collection. They are also used in traditional Chinese medicine, and are most often sold as pets, both in Asia and here in the United States.
You can take action to help these special turtles by…
  • Pledging never to purchase black-breasted leaf turtles which have been collected from the wild. Most specimens found in pet stores today are still imported directly from the wild, although there are some farms where the turtles are bred in captivity. However, even these farms are not good news for the little turtles, as many have to endure poor conditions where they are subjected to illness and parasites before arriving in the U.S.
  • Supporting conservation projects in Asia, such as our Wildlife Survival Fund project, Turtle Survival Alliance, where these turtles are naturally occurring. Protecting their home is the best way to keep their populations healthy.
  • There is quite a high demand for these turtles in the Asian food markets, be on the lookout for these products and do not take part in buying or selling items which demand using these delicate critters for consumption or medicinal purposes.
  • Save the date for August 9, Asian Wildlife Conservation Day at Woodland Park Zoo to learn more about how you can help.

Baby black-breasted leaf turtle, photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

They might not be able to say “thank you”, but your conservation actions will help to protect these tiny turtles and their future.

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