41 endangered softshell turtle hatchlings welcomed at San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Zoo announced that it has welcomed 41 endangered softshell turtle hatchlings.

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According to a news release from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, the zoo welcomed 41 Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle hatchlings over the summer. SDZWA said that the zoo has become the first accredited conservation organization in North America to hatch endangered turtles.

Conservations with SDZWA have been closely watching three adult turtles for the last 20 years for any signs of breeding, according to The Associated Press.

“This is a thrilling moment for us at the San Diego Zoo, and an incredible step forward in the conservation of this species,” said Kim Gray, curator of herpetology and ichthyology at the San Diego Zoo, in the news release. “We have been focused on caring for these turtles for a very long time, and part of that care is to gain a greater understanding of the species’ natural history. With the knowledge we gain here at the Zoo, we can better assist our partners in India to help this essential species thrive in their native habitat.”

According to the AP, the turtles have been known to lay their eggs at night and cover them with dirt, so it wasn’t easy to find a nest. However, two nests were found over the summer with 41 eggs, all of which survived.

“These turtles are higher-level predators within their native ranges,” said Gray in the news release. “If they are thriving, that means the river habitats where they live are healthy and can support other species. And that includes humans, as some local communities depend on the same water source used by the turtles.”

SDZWA said that these turtles are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Scientists are working to determine the exact amount of them.

This kind of turtle, are also called small-headed softshell turtles which are located in streams or deep rivers in northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal, said SDZWA.

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