New York's Rosamond Gifford Zoo announced that 27 Yellow-Spotted Amazon River turtles hatched at the zoo between April 5 and April 12. Named for the yellow spots on the side of its head, it is one of the largest river turtles in South America.
“The hatching of these once-endangered species is exciting for us, as many of them will enhance the exhibits at other accredited zoos around the country,” said Ted Fox, zoo director. “Captive breeding programs are often critical in the survival of a species, and this is a success story we are proud to tell.”
Females typically lay two clutches of eggs each year, each with up to 50 eggs in it. They make their nests in sandy areas on the banks of rivers where the eggs will hatch two to three months after they are laid. In the wild, eggs are laid at the peak of the dry season so the nest will not be washed away.
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The yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle is a vulnerable species, threatened by over-hunting, the pet trade and climate change. Aggressive conservation and breeding programs in their native countries is helping to sustain the population, which was once on the endangered species list. Importation of this species is now strictly regulated by federal law but a captive self-sustaining population exists in the United States—some groups in zoos, others in the hands of private collectors. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of just 70 institutions worldwide to house yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles.
The above baby turtles will be on exhibit at the zoo for a limited time and will eventually be transferred to zoos and aquariums around the country including the National Aquarium and the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, Calif.