29/08/2018

Endangered giant turtle goes on show at Bristol Zoo Gardens

A new Malaysian giant turtle which is endangered in the wild can now be seen at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The turtle, which is the largest freshwater turtle in Southeast Asia, weighs more than 50lbs (around 25kg) and is more than two feet (60cm) long.

He arrived at the 182-year-old Zoo after being carefully transported from his former home in Slovakia.

The turtle spent his first weeks at Bristol Zoo in a special temperature controlled area and was given a diet of green leaves, turtle pellets, worms, occasional pieces of fish and figs.

New arrivals like this spend time in quarantine and undergo thorough health checks before they are placed with other animals at the Zoo. But he is so big it took two people to carry him to the Zoo’s in-house-vets’ department for his examination.

Tim Skelton, curator of reptiles at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “It’s a real honour to be able to work with these magnificent turtles and this new male is no exception.”

He said it was hoped in time that the new turtle would breed with a female turtle already at the Zoo.

Tim said: “When he was first introduced to the female turtle he did not react well and the pair have been separated temporarily although both are still on display in the reptile house.  We will try again, once he has had more chance to settle into his new home.”

These semi-aquatic turtles live in freshwater lakes, swamps and rivers but they are at risk because they are being hunted for meat and taken for the exotic pet market.

Their habitat in Malaysia and Indonesia is also being destroyed as forests are turned into palm oil plantations.

Malaysian giant turtles are currently described as Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List.

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