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Blog | Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)
  Updated Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:37:26 +0000
Description The Turtle Survival Alliance is a global partnership of individuals, zoos, aquariums, biologists and researchers who have joined together to help conserve threatened and endangered tortoise and turtle species.
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Faces of the TSA Vol. 16
Category Blog
Published: Wed, 08 Aug 2018 12:51:26 +0000
Description:

Andrew Brinker and Son

Who: Andrew Brinker

What: Science Teacher, Paschal High School

Where: Fort Worth, Texas, USA



Jordan Gray: What is your earliest childhood memory with a turtle or tortoise?

Andrew Brinker: I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan near a nature center with a pond for where I spent countless days at during the late 1980's and 90's. In the third grade I began finding hatchling Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata) with brilliant yellow lines and red marginal scutes there. Soon thereafter I discovered hatchling Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) with their dinosaur like features. Eventually, I began to stalk the turtles that were basking on logs and then charge into the water with a fishing net in hopes of scooping one up. Not only was it fun, but it amazed my classmates at the nearby elementary school. Although I did keep a few turtles, I always returned them to the pond.


JG: How did you first become involved in turtle and tortoise conservation?

AB: I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology from Michigan State University, where I had the good fortune of taking herpetology under Jim Harding. I still recall the hatchlings he brought to the lab and of finding an Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) during a field trip on campus. As an undergraduate, I had ambitions of working at a zoo after college, and was granted an internship at Zoo Atlanta with mentors Mike Fost and Sue Barnard, two herpetologists full of integrity and knowledge. Due to a staffing shortage I was given my own section of amphibians and reptiles, which was heavy in turtles. I worked with Aldabra Tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea), Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata), and the incredible Barbour's Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri) to name a few — it was heaven.

After graduating from Michigan State, I landed a zookeeper position in the prestigious herpetarium at the Fort Worth Zoo, Ft. Worth, Texas. Again, I was surrounded with an incredible group of mentors that became lifelong friends, including former curators David Blody, Clay Garrett, and Rick Hudson. I began working at the zoo in 2001, the same year that the TSA was formed in Fort Worth. While at the zoo I cared for nearly all the turtles at one point or another, but most fondly remember successfully reproducing Hamilton's Pond Turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) and Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) — both a first for the zoo.

While working at the zoo I was able to earn my Master's degree at Texas Christian University under Gary Ferguson. The following summer I decided to change careers, and began teaching high school. With summers off, I have been able to volunteer with University of Texas - Arlington turtle nerd Carl Franklin in the crystal clear San Saba River, and more recently with the TSA's North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group at Comal Springs and Bull Creek, Texas. After learning the ins and outs of turtling, I decided to begin a mark recapture survey in the Trinity River that runs through downtown Fort Worth. It is surprisingly diverse, with seven species captured to date. I take students out at least once a month to set traps and process turtles.


JG: What is your favorite species of turtle or tortoise to work with?

AB: I am most excited when I manage to capture an elusive map turtle, and the Texas Map Turtle (Graptemys versa) is my favorite. I love the ghost white eyes, spectacular colors, and their natural history. The sexual dimorphism expressed allows each sex to occupy a different ecological niche; the tiny males with their narrow heads and the behemoth females with crushing jaws. At home I currently keep a single Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), whose name is Blody.
 


JG: What is your favorite aspect of being a high school science teacher?

AB: I have the pleasure of facilitating the growth of children into young adults that care about conservation. I am able to offer new ideas and concepts that give them an appreciation for natural history and wildlife. Before half the class falls asleep as I explain the intricacies of the Krebs cycle, I show them videos and photos of turtles, insects, birds, snakes, frogs etc., that I recently found, and discuss their natural histories. The summers off also provide a ton of time for turtling!


JG: Tell us about how you began the Trinity River Turtle Survey?

AB: While volunteering with the TSA's North American Freshwater Research Group I was amazed to see the citizen science component. After letting the experience stew for a few months I realized this would be the perfect way to get students involved with meaningful research outside of the classroom. I applied for a grant through the Andrews Institute of Mathematics and Science in the College of Education at Texas Christian University. The grant provided enough funding to purchase four traps, a PIT tag reader, calipers, and PIT tags. I also secured appropriate scientific research permits from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division.

We began studying the turtle community of the Trinity River in October 2017. In less than a year, we have marked more than 500 turtles, and recaptured 100 of them. The success of the project is not measured in the amount of turtles or data, it is about providing students with an opportunity to participate in science. Four students are coauthors with TCU colleagues on two posters at the TSA – IUCN-TFTSG Annual Symposium this month. The first poster discusses mercury concentration in turtles using toenail clippings, and the second poster discusses the diatom community found on the carapace of the turtles we've trapped. Not too shabby for high school students!


JG: What attracted you to become part of the Turtle Survival Alliance?

AB: The recent Radiated Tortoise confiscation relief effort is a great example of why I believe in the TSA. "Boots on the ground" feeding, watering, and providing medical assistance saved thousands of tortoise lives! What I like most about the TSA as a whole is their exemplary management of different programs and facilities throughout the world performing in situ conservation. The TSA has also allowed me to connect with a great group of turtle biologists that have similar views on conservation and turtles.


JG: What advice would you give to an aspiring chelonian conservationist?

AB: There are probably turtles close to your home—go start watching them and their environments. Read the chelonian natural history notes in Herpetological Review, which is free online. Volunteer with your local zoo or museum and join local herpetological societies!

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Species Spotlight Vol. 16
Category Blog
Published: Wed, 08 Aug 2018 12:37:42 +0000
Description:

AST-Jim Olive

Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys sp.)

Countries of Origin:  United States of America

IUCN Status:  Vulnerable

Estimated surviving population:   Unknown

Habitat: Rivers, creeks, spring runs, bayous, oxbows, river swamps, reservoirs

Biology and Habits: Alligator Snapping Turtles are a benthic dweller of the waterbodies they inhabit, typically favoring the deepest part of the waterway. They are most active during the night when they may traverse through their home range actively feeding and scavenging. This species feeds on carrion, fish, reptiles (including other turtles), amphibians, arthropods, mollusks, annelids, mammals, and aquatic vegetation. During the day, this species is highly inactive, and may sit motionless on the bottom of the water column for hours at a time. However, they have evolved a unique adapation to still feed while relatively inactive. Equipped with a worm-like appendage in their mouths, this turtle will sit motionless in the water, moving the "lure" to attract prey such as fish, which it will bite down upon once inside the widely-opened jaws. A solitary species by nature, the Alligator Snapping Turtle has an average home range of just under 0.80 km, of which it typically uses a submerged object to define the core of its range (Riedle, et al., 2006). Individuals may however make considerable movements of several kilometers up and downstream from its home range. An obligate aquatic, this species rarely leaves the water except to lay eggs, or if displaced by flooding events. Females will migrate to nesting sites tens of meters away from the waterline to deposit up to 50 or more eggs.

Size:

  • Males ≤ 80 cm (31.5 in)
  • Females ≤ 50 cm (20 in)

Factoids:

  • The Alligator Snapping Turtle is divided into two separate species: The Western Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) and the Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys suwanniensis)
  • The Alligator Snapping Turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world
  • The largest specimen on record was a captive specimen of 107 kg (236 lbs)
  • Alligator Snapping Turtles are estimated to live up to 200 years
  • Despite its menacing appearance, this species is not aggressive, but will actively display a gaping mouth when molested
  • The worm-like appendage in its mouth may be different colors depending on the genetics of the specimen, ranging in color from whitish, to pink, to pale grey, or brown
  • Alligator Snapping Turtles use chemosensory cues to locate prey items. They use gular (throat) pumping to draw water in and out to sample the surrounding water for chemicals that have been released by prey species (Punzo and Alton, 2002)
  • The large, powerful jaws of this species can exert a bite force of 1000 psi
  • This species was heavily hunted for commercial and personal consumption in the past leading to localized and range-wide population declines. It is now protected from hunting in every state in which it resides, with the exception of Louisiana, where one individual may be collected per day for personal use

Greatest Threats: Poaching for consumption, to stock breeding farms, and for illegal commerical transport, fishing gear entanglement — especially trotlines, waterway channelization, alteration, riparian destruction, and damming

How you can help: The greatest persistent threat to this species range-wide is fishing equipment lost or discarded in the waterways in which they live. Weighted trot-lines pose a significant threat to even the largest of specimens, who can drown if they cannot become untangled. You can help this species by always discarding fishing tackle and line in the proper receptacles and by educating others to do the same. Furthermore, participating in river cleanup efforts will help regularly reduce the threats posed by discarded tackle and line.

Our TSA-North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group is actively involved in studying this species in the bayous of Harris County, Texas. You can aid this group in their research and conservation efforts for this hidden, yet iconic riverine species, in one of the most populous counties in the United States by DONATING TODAY!

Photo Credit: Jim Olive

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China and Vietnam to Cooperate on Saving World's Rarest Turtle
Category Blog
Published: Mon, 30 Jul 2018 17:13:13 +0000
Description:

TSA Logo CURRENT 2018 JPG

For Immediate Release

July 30, 2018

 

CHINA AND VIETNAM TO COOPERATE ON SAVING THE WORLD’S RAREST TURTLE

Charleston, South Carolina - The Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), one of the rarest animals on Earth, may have been given a reprieve from extinction this week with the announcement that Vietnam and China may work to cooperate in saving it. Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Monday informed the Hanoi administration of China's recent suggestion that both countries collaborate in attempting to breed the four known living animals.

The fourth living specimen, of unknown sex, was confirmed in Vietnam's Xuan Khanh Lake this past April. Two of the other three living animals, a female and an aging male, have been kept since 2008 in the Suzhou Zoo in China. Despite three internationally spearheaded artificial insemination attempts, all of the eggs laid by the female have been infertile. The other living specimen, sex also unknown, lives in Dong Mo Lake west of Hanoi.

Rafetus is Vietnam's most celebrated turtle. Nicknamed the "Sword Lake" turtle, legend has it that a magical sword used by Vietnam's ruler in the 15th century to defeat an invading Chinese army was returned to the Golden Turtle God in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake. The last Hoan Kiem Lake turtle, a large male possibly over 100 years old, died in January 2016.

"China and Vietnam are the two countries that hold the fate of this animal in their hands. That they are now willing to set aside centuries of cultural and geopolitical animosity to unite to save is inspiration for conservation everywhere," said Rick Hills, Executive Director of the Turtle Survival Alliance.

Despite its legendary status and impressive size – adults can weigh over 150kg (330 lbs) - Rafetus has not fared well. Once found throughout the Yangtze and Red River basins, it has been wiped out by habitat loss from dam construction and was hunted heavily for local food consumption in the latter decades of the 20th century.

At a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) earlier this year, China suggested the collaboration with Vietnam. Vietnam's Agriculture Ministry said in Monday's announcement that this is "a great and practical opportunity for breeding and protecting the species," calling on specialists from both sides to hold discussions. According Hoang Van Ha of the Asian Turtle Program, "if either of the individuals in Dong Mo or Xuan Khanh Lakes are male, they could be matched with the female in Suzhou Zoo in China."

Since 2003, the Asian Turtle Program has attempted to locate additional living animals by conducting surveys of locals in northern Vietnam, with limited success. The April sighting was confirmed in part via state-of-the-art environmental DNA (eDNA) testing of the Dong Mo Lake turtle, as refined by Dr. Caren Goldberg of Washington State University. Further eDNA testing to find additional wild animals is ongoing.

The hope is that all wild Rafetus may be brought together in a controlled environment for captive breeding. Several organizations and governmental support are behind these efforts. Vietnam's Biodiversity Conservation Agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Fisheries Department, and Forest Protection Department back the surveys. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Turtle Conservation Fund, Washington State University, the IUCN, and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, British Chelonia Group and private donors support the eDNA analysis. New York's Wildlife Conservation Society, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research in Berlin, San Diego Zoo Global, the Suzhou Zoo, Changsha Zoo, WCS-China, and the China Zoo Society are actively involved in the artificial insemination efforts.

 

TSA (Turtle Survival Alliance)

MISSION: The Turtle Survival Alliance is transforming passion for turtles into effective conservation action through a global network of living collections and recovery programs. VISION: Zero turtle extinctions. To achieve our mission and vision, the Turtle Survival Alliance manages collaborative turtle conservation programs in 15 countries—critical to maintaining and restoring wild populations and preserving species through assurance colonies. Today, the TSA's programs positively impact the survival of 20 of the World's Top 25 Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Visit: www.turtlesurvival.org; http://www.facebook.com/TurtleSurvival; www.instagram.com/turtlesurvival. Follow: @turtlesurvival on Twitter.

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Turtle Survival Alliance Hires New Executive Director
Category Blog
Published: Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:52:15 +0000
Description:

For Immediate Release

July 11, 2018

Rick Hills.thumb 1

 

Turtle Survival Alliance Hires New Executive Director 

Charleston, South Carolina – Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) is pleased to announce that Richard "Rick" M. Hills has been appointed as Executive Director, effective July 16, 2018. Rick will report to TSA's Board of Directors, and will have overall management responsibility for TSA and its global mission of "zero turtle extinctions".

Rick comes to TSA with a strong background as a business leader in California real estate development, an attorney, and an environmental advocate. He has had long-term involvement with the environmental and zoological communities in the United States, and has most recently been serving as Chair of Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global. His interest in, and commitment to, turtle conservation has been lifelong. Currently based in San Francisco, Rick will relocate to the Charleston, South Carolina area, home of TSA's principal office and its Turtle Survival Center, which houses assurance colonies for 30 of the world's most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles.

Rick commented: "The Turtle Survival Alliance's work is crucial to global wildlife conservation. We bring the purest science to care for our assurance colonies in South Carolina and to our international field operations in Africa (Madagascar), Asia, Central America, and South America. My goals are to help grow our work and to make people everywhere aware of what an incredible organization we are."

Patricia Koval, Chairman of the Board, TSA added: "We are delighted to have Rick join our dedicated team, including Rick Hudson (President), Andrew Walde (COO), and all of our wonderful colleagues in South Carolina and at our field programs worldwide. We look forward to Rick's passion, dynamism, and expertise to help us grow our ability to achieve the greatest possible results in tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation."

 

About Turtle Survival Alliance

Turtle Survival Alliance is a non-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status. Since its formation in 2001, TSA has become recognized as a global force for turtle conservation, capable of taking swift and decisive action on behalf of critically endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles. With its commitment to "zero turtle extinctions," TSA transforms passion for turtles into effective conservation action through: (1) restoring populations in the wild where possible; (2) securing endangered species in captivity through assurance colonies; and (3) building the capacity to restore, secure, and conserve species within their range countries. In addition to the Turtle Survival Center in South Carolina, TSA manages collaborative turtle conservation programs in 15 diversity hotspots around the world. For more information, visit: www.turtlesurvival.org; http://www.facebook.com/turtlesurvival; www.instagram.com/turtlesurvival; @turtlesurvival on Twitter.

# # #

For more information, please contact Jordan Gray, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, at (912) 659-0978 or by email at jgray@turtlesurvival.org.

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Breakout Year for Burmese Roofed Turtles
Category Blog
Published: Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:19:06 +0000
Description:

Yangon, Myanmar—TSA-Myanmar Director Kalyar Platt announced that this year's hatching season for the critically endangered Burmese Roofed Turtle (Batagur trivittata) was record-breaking! At the recent conclusion of the hatching season, 223 of the grayish-green hatchlings had been produced between two of Myanmar's four conservation facilities for the species.

Trivittata 0

A hatchling Burmese Roofed Turtle still displaying its egg tooth is held at the Limpha Village field station along the Upper Chindwin River.

With an all-time high number of eggs under incubation this year, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)/TSA Limpha Village field station, located along the Upper Chindwin River, produced an all-time-high 68 hatchlings. Located on the river's banks, the Limpha Village field station is positioned to directly collect eggs deposited by wild females and translocate them to a protected on-site hatchery. In Mandalay, the Myanmar Forest Department's program at the Yadanabon Zoo manages the only successful captive breeding colony for the species. There, the eggs are collected after deposition for artificial incubation, hatching, and rearing. This program produced an incredible 155 hatchlings in 2018—the results largely attributable to the addition of a new sand nesting bank with better sun exposure. This year's 223 hatchlings will be reared at the respective facilities for 5 years before select individuals are identified for introduction to the wild.

Trivittata 4

Myint Tun inspects a recently hatched Burmese Roofed Turtle in the hatchery at the Yadanabon Zoo in Mandalay.

One of the most-endangered of the Batagur genus, the fate of the Burmese Roofed Turtle rests upon a comprehensive multi-pronged conservation approach—the foundation of which is these hatchlings. This multi-institutional and multi-national effort utilizes the handful of naturally-occurring individuals remaining in the Upper Chindwin River, field research, monitoring, and nest protection stations, captive assurance colonies, captive-breeding and head start programs, and strategic release attempts. Currently, there are three national and one international assurance, captive-breeding, and rearing colonies for the Burmese Roofed Turtle. These cornerstone facilities, located at the Yadanabon Zoo, Lawkanandar Wildlife Sanctuary, Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary, and Singapore Zoo, now house well over 800 specimens of varying age-classes.

Trivittata 3

Dr. Tint Lwin takes morphmetrics of hatchling Burmese Roofed Turtles at the Limpha Village field station.

This effort is supported by the WCS, TSA, Yadanabon Zoo, Myanmar Forest Department, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Panaphil Foundation, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

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Historic Confiscation of Radiated Tortoises, Phase II: Transition to long-term care facility is complete
Category Blog
Published: Tue, 10 Jul 2018 20:43:17 +0000
Description:

Itampolo Rock and Tortoise

A large juvenile Radiated Tortoise sits beside the commemorative stone placed at our Itampolo tortoise facility.

On a late June morning, 62 days after the nearly 10,000 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) were seized from wildlife traffickers in Toliara, Madagascar, a large green truck departed the SOPTOM-CRCC “Village des Tortues” in Ifaty. Contained within it, a precious and historically significant cargo: 1,724 small juvenile specimens of this critically endangered species. The shipment of this smallest size-class of tortoise would represent the final transfer of these beleaguered tortoises, generously held at the SOPTOM facility, to our TSA facility near Itampolo. It would also mark the end of our joint relief operation based in Ifaty and signify the transition of primary operations to Itampolo.

In the more than two months since Soary Randrianjafizanaka, Directeur Regional de l'Environment, de 'Ecologie et des Forets (DREEF Atsimo-Andrefana) first placed the tortoises at the Village des Tortues following the seizure, thousands of tortoises have been transferred in staged intervals to our Itampolo facility. Transported in contingents of 1,000 – 2,000 tortoises based on size and weight class, and given health screenings prior to departure, the tortoises will receive long-term care in Itampolo. These transfers have been charitably sponsored by WWF Madagascar and Deutsche Geselschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Tortoise Truck

The final shipment of tortoises and supplies was provided by Deutsche Geselschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Tasked with the important assignment of transitioning the overall relief operation to Itampolo, including the continuation of medical treatments, animal care, and transportation health assessments, was the 5th wave of our joint relief effort. This contingent was composed of wildlife warriors representing the Shedd Aquarium, White Oak Conservation, University of Florida, University of Queensland, Turtle Survival Alliance, and private practice. The team packed and transported all of the remaining tortoises, medical and animal care supplies, and support equipment to our new facility in Itampolo.

Situated 137 km (85 mi) southeast of Ifaty, the Itampolo facility now houses over 8,900 of the original 10,196 tortoises discovered inside the single residential holding facility. Our new base of operations in the Mahafaly region, this facility recently underwent a major expansion (See the article in the next eNewsletter!) to improve operational capacity for this exceptional number of tortoises. This expansion includes sprawling forested enclosures built into native spiny-forest habitat, guard stations, medical clinic, food preparation area, and a water distribution system that is currently being installed with assistance from the seventh and final wave of volunteers. Here, the tortoises will get a second chance at a long life in Madagascar. They will be cared for by our Malagasy staff until they have passed a safe quarantine period and regained the fat reserves lost during their containment by the wildlife traffickers. It is our goal to reestablish this group of critically endangered tortoises to protected wild reserves through our comprehensive "Confiscation to Reintroduction Strategy."

Sadly, of the original 10,196 animals discovered within the traffickers' holding facility, 1,225 of these beautiful and iconic tortoises will never return to the wild—a tragedy guaranteed by their long and inhumane treatment by poachers. Within the residential holding facility, 308 animals were initially discovered dead by the DREEF, 721 perished during the critical first week post-seizure—despite the greatest attempts of the Malagasy contingent of veterinarians to save them, and 196 perished after the arrival of our joint response teams on April 22nd. Although the loss of 1,225 tortoises to the scourge of wildlife trafficking is significant, the more than 5,900 medical assessments and treatments performed by our veterinarians in Ifaty since April 11th provides evidence that thousands more would have died without intervention.

Continuing this unprecedented relief effort, "Team Radiata 6," representing the El Paso Zoo, Oregon Zoo, and Zoo Atlanta, and "Team Radiata 7," representing the Wildlife Conservation Society, North Carolina Zoo, and Great Plains Zoo, have been putting in long hours on the ground in Itampolo, both working on construction for the facility's expansion and providing medical and husbandry care for the thousands of tortoises. These efforts will, without a doubt, provide a better future for the tortoises in Madagascar.

Team Radiata 6

Team Radiata 6: Jose Arnaud Miarison (TSA), Dr. Kate Leach (Zoo Atlanta), Dr. Mamy Andriamihajarivo (TSA), Kelli Harvison (Oregon Zoo), Luis Villanueva (El Paso Zoo)

Team Radiata 7

Team Radiata 7: Boris (TSA contractor), Kate Archibald (North Carolina Zoo), Janelle Brandt (Great Plains Zoo), Katherine Hagen (North Carolina Zoo), Melissa Ortiz (WCS), Brittany Murphy (WCS), Bruce Moffit (North Carolina Zoo), Terria Clay (WCS)

We owe a debt of gratitude to the DREEF Atsimo-Andrefana, SOPTOM-CRCC, Malagasy Government, the U.S. Embassy, and all the zoological institutions, charitable organizations, NGO's, and private donors who have made the first chapter of this monumental relief effort possible. To continue supporting this historic relief effort and long-term care for the nearly 9,000 Radiated Tortoises now under our care in Itampolo, please consider DONATING TODAY.

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Southern Vietnam Box Turtle Hatches at the TSC!
Category Blog
Published: Thu, 21 Jun 2018 15:14:17 +0000
Description:

By Cris Hagen, Nathan Haislip, Clint Doak, Carol Alvarez, John Greene, and Jordan Gray

Cuora picturata FINAL

The year's first hatchling Southern Vietnam Box Turtle breaks through its eggshell in the TSC's incubator. Photo credit: Cris Hagen

On June 8, 2018 the first hatchling Southern Vietnam Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) of the year pipped its egg at our Turtle Survival Center. Deposited on February 26th, the egg incubated for 102 days at 25.5°C (78°F) before greeting our keepers with its beautifully mottled yellow, orange, and black head.

2018 has been a breakout year for Southern Vietnam Box Turtle reproduction at the TSC. Despite their relatively recent acquisition, with all of the adult specimens having arrived at the TSC in 2014, 2015, and 2017 respectively, the females have acclimated well to their new environment. This acclimation is actively demonstrated by this year's extraordinary egg production. Thus far, twenty eggs have been produced from all eight females in the collection. Eighteen of these eggs have been collected for incubation, while one clutch of two are still being carried by the parental female.

Not only has overall egg production for the assurance group of Southern Vietnam Box Turtles been high in 2018, but individual production has been equally as high. Each female in the collection, aside from one, has laid two clutches thus far, with the mother of this year's first hatchling having just produced her third. With a roughly 50% fertility rate, half of the eighteen eggs deposited are showing development. Of poignant note, this year's production is greater than that of the total production by all United States zoos participating in the studbook for the species. Furthermore, the TSC is the only non-zoological facility (U.S.) participating in the studbook that has produced the species, aside from private individuals.

With a laser-focus on our commitment to this species, we hope to hatch many more of this rare and beautiful species over the coming years. These hatchlings will help build the foundation for healthy, first-generation assurance colonies.

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