Eleven Ornate Box Turtles hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, this week! The hatchlings are part of an effort to restore the native populations of turtles to their natural sand prairie habitat in Western Illinois, where they will return next summer. The hatchlings come from three different clutches provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
“Every single hatchling is a success for the population,” said Diane Mulkerin, Lincoln Park Zoo curator. “Each animal represents being one step closer to restoring the natural grasslands and prairies in Illinois, which is necessary for the ecosystem to flourish.”
The turtles will remain at the zoo for the next several months where they can thrive without the threat of predation or disease. Once the animals grow both in size and strength, they will be re-introduced into grasslands and sand prairies protected by the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savannah, Ill.
Lincoln Park Zoo participates in re-introduction programs for Smooth Green Snakes, Meadow-Jumping Mice in Illinois as well as Red Wolves, Trumpeter Swans, Guam Rails and other threatened and endangered species across the U.S.
See more great photos below the fold!