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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Turtle hatching a conservation coup for critically endangered species

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor with Jennifer Pramuk, PhD, Curator

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Little bigger than a penny, a flowerback box turtle hatched at Woodland Park Zoo on May 7, 2016. This is the third hatching success of this critically endangered species at the zoo, each one a triumph in the fight against extinction.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

The common name for this turtle refers to the beautiful colors and ornate designs on its carapace. Native to China, Vietnam and Laos, it is endangered because it is desired as an ingredient in some traditional medicines and for the pet trade.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Turtles have been around for 220 million years and survived the massive extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. Yet these ancient survivors are now going extinct faster than any other group of terrestrial vertebrates. Almost 50% of known turtle species are listed as threatened with extinction.

It’s a sobering figure, but it’s not too late for turtles. 

Woodland Park Zoo’s conservation work continues in the field where we’re working with partners to save endangered turtles in the Pacific Northwest, Asia and beyond. It can continue at your home, too.

A western pond turtle raised at Woodland Park Zoo is released into protected Washington wetlands to repopulate the state endangered species. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Turtles in your community need clean water and viable nesting grounds, and you can help. Start by reducing pesticides in your gardening practices to keep chemical runoff out of our waterways, and consider using native plants that naturally thrive here. Take it further by joining habitat restoration projects in your area, which is also a great way to involve friends and family to make an even bigger impact for turtles.

World Turtle Day is coming up on May 23. Share this story to spread the turtle love and help us raise awareness for turtle conservation.

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