Hatching of tiny rare turtle is huge breakthrough for city zoo
THIS tiny turtle is one of the world's rarest species – and has just hatched at Bristol Zoo.
It is the first time a Vietnamese box turtle has hatched at a British zoo.
The seven-week-old turtle is so precious that it is being kept in a climate-controlled room at the Clifton zoo and is hand-fed chopped worms to give it the best possible start in life.
Keepers have named the Vietnamese turtle, that is about the size of a matchbox and weighs just 28g, Vernon. An adult box turtle weighs about 1kg, measures about 20cm long and can live up to 50 years old.
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Vernon lives in a custom-built Asian turtle breeding room in the zoo's reptile house alongside ten adult box turtles and a few other young turtles.
Curator of reptiles at the zoo, Tim Skelton, who has cared for turtles for more than 40 years, said: "This is a very difficult species to breed so I am thrilled with the arrival of this baby after so many years; it is certainly a career highlight."
The birth takes the total number of Vietnamese box turtles at Bristol Zoo to seven. The zoo has joined forces with private turtle experts around Europe to form a European breeding programme in an effort to save the species from total extinction.
"Not a lot is known about this species so we can learn an awful lot from this baby to improve our chances of breeding more in future," Mr Skelton said.
"These are secretive animals so we are keeping it in a warm, humid and quiet room with a constant temperature, in a boggy tank to replicate its natural habitat where it can burrow among the soil and leaves."