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Tiny Tortoises Hatch at the Toronto Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 10, 2021 1:55 pm

Tortoise's hatch at Toronto Zoo

The pair of Madagascar spider tortoise hatchlings at the Toronto Zoo

Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo

Toronto Zoo have celebrated the hatching of a pair of Madagascar spider tortoises. After a highly monitored incubation period the zoo is excited to celebrate the second successful hatching of this species at the zoo. The first occurred in 2020.

The first egg was laid on Thursday August 13th 2020 and hatched on Friday March 19th 2020. The second egg followed on Friday October 2nd 2021 and hatched on Saturday March 20th, 2021.

Keepers were able to welcome these hatchlings by simulating natural breeding conditions. This included placing the adults in a period of dormancy by reducing temperatures. Then when tortoises awake from this period of rest they are ready to breed.

Throughout the incubation a suspension in development or diapause occurs. Incubation temperatures are changed to achieve this. They are gradually lowered then brought back up. This mirrors an environmental condition the eggs experience in the wild.

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“This complicated mating and incubation process highlights the delicate nature of this critically endangered species and the intricate care they require from Keepers to thrive,” said Rick Vos, Lead Keeper of Amphibians and Reptiles, Toronto Zoo.

“Successful breeding is the foundation for species conservation,” said Dr. Gabriela Mastromonaco, Director of Conservation Science. “These hatchlings represent the level of care and expertise provided by the talented team at your Toronto Zoo."

“This is your Toronto Zoo living our mission of connecting people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction,” said Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo. “It’s our commitment to support meaningful conservation actions to make a positive difference for wildlife and the births of these endangered tortoises strongly demonstrates that,” he added.

Keepers are hoping they may have more success with this species to announce soon. A third egg was laid on Friday, January 1st 2021 and is currently undertaking its cooling period.

Madagascar spider tortoises are natives of southwestern Madagascar. Their name comes from a web-like pattern of yellow and black lines which radiate across the upper shell.

They are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their numbers have been declining due to habitat alteration and the collection of food and to supply the pet trade.

Tortoise's hatch at Toronto Zoo

One of the Madagascar spider tortoise hatchlings emerges from an egg

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Learn more about Tortoises here – Turtle and Tortoise Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Toronto Zoo on their website – Toronto Zoo

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