Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: April 14, 2022 1:49 am
An endangered western swamp tortoise is seen after emerging from its egg as part of the breeding project at the Adelaide Zoo
Photo Credit: Zoos SA
As children across the world prepare for Easter egg hunts this weekend keepers at Adelaide Zoo have been excited by eggs of their own. A number of western swamp tortoises have emerged from their eggs as part of a breeding project for the threatened species at the zoo.
Six tiny tortoises emerged from their eggs this week ahead of Easter themed trails at Adelaide Zoo this weekend.
With the newest additions at the zoo they have now welcomed 53 westerns swamp tortoise hatchlings as part of their breeding project for the species.
Director of Adelaide Zoo Dr Phil Ainsley said this number is incredibly significant because Zoos SA has now bred more of the species than was left in the wild in the 1980s.
“From the first recorded specimen in 1839, it was more than 100 years until the species was seen again,” Dr Ainsley said.
“By the mid-1980s it was estimated there were less than 50 individuals left in the wild, so it is such a huge milestone for us that we have now bred over that number here at Zoos SA.
“This season we have had six little ones hatch and we have four more viable eggs, so we have our fingers crossed!
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“Since Zoos SA became involved in the conservation of this special species we have had 33 individuals returned to Perth to form part of the rewilding program, and we hope to send 13 more in the near future.”
The western swamp tortoise is found exclusively in Western Australia. Unfortunately the species is considered to be the most endangered reptile in Australia.
At present the species is restricted to just two swamps in the state following reductions in their population through habitat loss and predation from introduced species like foxes, cats, dogs and pigs.
Climate change is placing further pressure on their population with declining winter and spring rainfall wreaking havoc on their critical swamp habitats.
Zoos SA work with their partners Parks and Wildlife WA and Perth Zoo along with the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team to ensure a genetically viable population is released back into the wild.
Conservation work at Adelaide Zoo such as the western swamp tortoise breeding project is supported by partners like TCM Electronics.
The western swamp tortoise hatchlings are not much larger than a coin
Photo Credit: Zoos SA