ZSL London Zoo reptile house team leader, Ben Tapley said, “We’ve gone to town on the new Annam leaf turtle exhibit here at ZSL London Zoo, as we want our visitors to really understand the threats facing these animals.”
In their native home of Vietnam these turtles are considered a delicacy. Due to severe overhunting to satisfy the restaurant trade along with habitat loss have lead the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list this species as critically endangered.
Their new home replicates a restaurant kitchen with the pool resembling a kitchen sink. On the wall hang woks and there is a bubbling soup pot. Keepers are hopeful that the striking look of their striped neck and faces will juxtapose with the kitchen and hit a chord with visitors.
“Providing a great habitat for these beautiful turtles, with water for them to swim in and a secluded nesting area hidden behind a carefully positioned wok, the creative exhibit tells a serious story,” added Tapley.
“It has been estimated that more than ten million turtles are being traded for food, traditional medicine and the pet trade each year in Asia. Breeding programmes and zoo populations like ours here at ZSL London Zoo, are becoming increasingly important in guaranteeing the existence of these animals for the future.”
Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo