SO ADORABLE: Four critically endangered turtles hatch at the Houston Zoo

The Zoo experiences its first painted terrapin turtles hatch

2021 Baby Terrapin
2021 Baby Terrapin (Houston Zoo)

The Houston Zoo has four new turtles.

For the first time, zookeepers witnessed four painted terrapin turtles hatch in their care. The animals are among the 25 most endangered turtle species in the world, according to a news release.

The species originate from the rivers in Southeast Asia, and can be found in the water and on the shore at the Wortham World of Primates inside the zoo.

2021 Baby Terrapin (Houston Zoo)
2021 Baby Terrapin (Houston Zoo)
2021 Baby Terrapin (Houston Zoo)
2021 Baby Terrapin (Houston Zoo)

Hatching assisted by a team

A team of primate keepers, veterinarians, and herpetology keepers assisted over the watch of the adult turtles and the monitoring of the incubation process. In addition, the water quality team ensured the water had the appropriate temperature and maintenance throughout the year, which is needed for their survival.

According to a news release, the reptiles prepare for breeding season by changing from their grey/brown color to a colorful shade. The species’ shell lightens, their heads turn white followed by a red stripe between their eyes, and their tip is angled upward, which makes it easy for them to gather food from the surface of the water.

Zoo inspires action to save turtles

The zoo says the turtles face challenges to stay alive. Their eggs and meat are sought and sold as food, and they face habitat destruction.

To help this species, the zoo said it supports local Malaysians conservation professionals. Their work includes protecting the reptiles’ nests and restoring their habitats.

In 2020, the zoo was able to protect “more than 550 painted terrapin eggs in 33 nests in Sumatra,” according to a news release. The zoo said the purchase of a zoo ticket helps support conservation projects.