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Far from the Galápagos, Breeding Program Hatches Tiny Tortoises

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Success! As a result of a special breeding program, two endangered Galápagos Tortoises have hatched at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia. The tiny tortoises emerged from their shells on January 24 and 26.

These hatchlings follow the zoo's breakthrough breeding achievement in 2011 when Taronga Western Plains Zoo became the first zoo in Australasia to successfully breed Galápagos Tortoise. Now three years old, RJ weighs about 2.4 pounds (1100 g). 

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5 tortoisePhoto credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

One of the longest-living vertebrates, Galápagos Tortoises can live for over 100 years in the wild and reach weights of around 880 pounds (400 kg) and lenghths of up to 5 feet (1.5 m). They are found only on the Galápagos archipelago, west of continental Ecuador. 

Now a protected species, Galápagos Tortoises were reduced by centuries of exploitation as a food source for sailors. Today, only about 15,000 remain in the wild. Released tortoises from captive breeding programs, as well as efforts to restore habitat and manage competing species, are helping to revive populations in the wild. 

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