SIX critically endangered big-headed turtles have been hatched at Jersey Zoo, the second time in history that the species has been born in any European zoo.
The reptiles measured three centimetres at birth, and have since doubled in size.
A breeding pair was offered to Jersey Zoo in 2019 from a botanical garden in Hong Kong, who had confiscated the turtles from smugglers.
Durrell’s head of herpetology Matt Goetz said: ‘This is not only significant for our team but is also only the second time a European zoo has had offspring by this species.
‘The hatchlings here will enable us to develop more husbandry insights to advise our Malagasy colleagues at our turtle captive breeding centre in Madagascar.’
In a statement, Jersey Zoo revealed that they ‘had not anticipated any breeding attempts for a few years’ as both turtles arrived in Jersey measuring just 20 centimetres, despite the species being capable of reaching up to 50cm.
The rare Madagascar big-headed turtle is Madagascar’s only endemic freshwater turtle and the largest turtle species in the country.
Since 1998, Durrell has implemented conservation activities for the turtles in the wild despite the species facing threats such as the hunting of turtles and eggs and the loss of wetland habitat.