The Perth Zoo in Australia had another successful season in their efforts to conserve Western Swamp Tortoises with 33 successful hatches. The zoo has been working hard since 1989 to help conserve this critically endangered species by rebuilding their wild population through a captive breeding and reintroduction program. Since the program's initiation, the zoo has hatched more than 800 tortoises, 600 of which have been successfully reintroduced to the wild.
In order to help increase the hatching success, after tortoises lay their eggs, keepers dig them up and place them in incubators. They remain here for four to six months until the hatchlings emerge. This year, the zoo was able to capture rare footage of two tortoises emerging from their shells, which can be found below. After they are born, the hatchlings are weighed and marked with nail polish on their shells so that they can be individually identified.
Photo credits: Daniel Scarparolo / Perth Zoo
Hatchlings are raised at the zoo for about three years until they reach 100 grams in weight. At this point they are released into one of four sites that are managed by the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation to help boost the wild population. In addition, the zoo maintains an "insurance population" of 150-200 Western Swamp Tortoises in case of an unforseen drastic decline in wild number.
See more photos after the fold!