Must See To Appreciate!

This week, the zoo welcomed an amazing new addition with the hatching of a Spiny hill turtle. These turtles are critically endangered in the wild, and this hatchling has an incredible story. Its parents were illegally removed from the wild for human consumption and were stuffed in foam crates, along with hundreds of other turtles for export. Before customs could confiscate them, many of the crates collapsed, suffocating the animals inside. The turtles that survived the ordeal were sent to appropriate facilities for rehabilitation. My zoo received five spiny hill turtles, and were the first facility to successfully breed any of the animals from this confiscation. Since then, several more babies have made their appearance.

Heosemys spinosa, the spiny hill turtle. It will spend a few days on damp paper towels as its umbilicus closes. Then it will be ready to go for a swim.

It looks enormous, doesn’t it? Here’s a not-so-close-up:

It's not as big as it looks, is it?

So here’s the really amazing part. Brad, the Lead Keeper, took some measurements.

Every neonate is weighed and measured.

This baby has a maximum carapace (shell) length and width of 63mm. That’s about 2 1/2 inches. Hang onto your hat. The egg shell itself measured a mere 36mm.  You read that right. The baby is almost twice as wide as the egg it was living in. How is that even possible? Like this:

The curve of the carapace (top shell) is incredible, but check out the wrinkles in the plastron (bottom shell)! I love how it has its little nose pulled in. Its face reminds me of Homer Simpson. And those bumpy things on either side are its legs.

And I thought we were cramped when we lived in 900sq ft with two kids!


special thanks to sj for creating the watermark.