Wednesday, August, 27 2014, Toronto Ontario: Born on Thursday, June, 5 2014, after an extensively monitored 135 day incubation period, the Toronto Zoo is thrilled to announce a baby Burmese star tortoise has successfully hatched an is now on exhibit. This is the first hatching of a Burmese star tortoise in Canada and the Toronto Zoo is one of only a few institutions in North America to have a successful hatching.
The Burmese star tortoise is one of the most beautiful tortoises in the world, with bright radiating yellow stripes that form a distinctive star pattern on their shells. In the wild they are found in forest openings and forest edges in the dry regions of Myanmar. The population has undergone a dramatic decline due to mass harvesting for the food market, as they are perceived to have medicinal value, and the illegal pet trade.
Since 2007, the Toronto Zoo has had four Burmese star tortoises in our care. Tortoises take many years to reach sexual maturity and this is the first fertile egg our tortoises have produced since their arrival. Our female laid nine eggs on January 21, 2014 and Wildlife Care Staff in the Indo-Malaya Pavilion carefully placed the eggs in an incubator set at 29 °C. About half way through the incubation, it was noticed one of the eggs was slightly cracked. Wildlife Care Staff used a specialized ultra-sensitive microphone to monitor the growing embryo’s heart rate on a daily basis so they could determine if the growing baby was positively progressing. After 135 days, the baby tortoise successfully hatched. Unfortunately, none of the other eggs were fertile. The baby tortoise was kept in an incubator until it fed regularly and gained weight. As it is a shy tortoise, our wildlife care staffs monitor its weight and may take it to a nursery tank for feeding a few times a week located in the Indo-Malaya Pavilion.
“The keepers in our Indo-Malaya Pavilion nurtured this single fertile egg and we are pleased to share the story of this very precious hatchling turtle with our Zoo visitors”, says Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curatorial Keeper, Amphibians and Reptiles.
The Toronto Zoo is proud to support efforts to save and protect turtles and tortoises around the world as a member of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). Burmese star tortoise reintroduction is now being planned as a collaborative effort between the TSA and other conservation partners. The goal is to have captive bred tortoises, like our new hatchling, repatriated to Myanmar to assist our conservation partners in establishing a healthy wild population.
In 2014 the Toronto Zoo is celebrating 40 Years of saving and protecting animals and their habitats at home and abroad
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