Rare turtles hatch at Chester Zoo

Share Button
Golden Coin turtles at Chester Zoo © Chester Zoo

Golden Coin turtles at Chester Zoo © Chester Zoo

Two of the rarest turtles in the world have hatched in Chester Zoo. The two golden coin turtles are the first to be bred in the UK this year.

The turtles, also known as Chinese three-striped box turtles, are native to China and Vietnam and are critically endangered in the wild. Their numbers are in huge decline due largely to their over-collection for the southern Asian food markets, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Herpetology keeper Ruth Smith said: “Asian turtle species have undergone massive declines in recent years. They are overexploited and hundreds of thousands of them are traded annually for human consumption. The golden coin turtle has suffered particularly badly and the species is now right on the very edge of extinction.”

The species is also hunted for its use in traditional medicines and is highly sought-after by the pet trade due to their striking colours.

Ruth added: “Golden coin turtles have a bright pinkish-orange underside and a colourful head, making them one of the most attractive of all species of turtle.

“But their beauty has made them incredibly valuable to the pet trade and this has sadly, yet inevitably, led to their over-collection from the wild.

“Whether or not we can now save this stunning species is touch and go but at the very least, the skills and techniques our keepers are developing by breeding these turtles here and the intensive care they are giving them will go a long way towards helping conserve other similar species that thankfully do have a better long-term chance of survival.”

Chester Zoo is one of the world’s leading centres for conservation and has 11,000 animals from 400 different species. About half are on the threatened list. It works worldwide to help protect animals and plants from extinction.

About Hazel Miller, JMU Journalism