ZSL London Zoo shared some exciting news with its social media followers earlier this month. The zoo went on Instagram to announce the hatching of three babies belonging to a pair of critically endangered big-headed turtles.
This was a big event as the species’ population has been in a rapid decline in recent decades due to overexploitation. The big-headed turtle, native to China and Southeast Asia, is hunted for its meat and is often used in the pet trade. It is officially listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Two female and two male big-headed turtles arrived at the London Zoo three years ago after being rescued from smugglers. They were first kept apart due to their territorial nature but grew closer over time with the help of zookeepers and formed pairs. The connection of one pair produced eggs, and three baby turtles hatched in October.
According to ZSL London Zoo, all three babies are healthy and progressing well.
“We knew we had the expertise at ZSL London Zoo to give this solitary species the specialist care they individually needed, and we’re pleased that this dedicated work has paid off with these three hatchlings,” said zookeeper Kimberley Carter via Metro UK.
The big-headed turtle is usually found around and in rivers and fast streams. The species is characterized by its inability to pull its head into the shell compared to most other turtles. However, it has head armor and powerful jaws that it uses to defend itself from predators.