Zoos SA is egg-static to share that six tiny Western Swamp Tortoises have hatched at Adelaide Zoo.
The egg-citing news comes just in time for the Easter long weekend, with two egg-themed conservation trails at both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park.
The critically-endangered hatchlings bring the total numbers of Western Swamp Tortoises successfully raised at Zoos SA to 53.
Director of Adelaide Zoo Dr Phil Ainsley said this number is incredibly significant because Zoos SA has now bred more of the species than was left in the wild in the 1980s.
“From the first recorded specimen in 1839, it was more than 100 years until the species was seen again,” Dr Ainsley said.
“By the mid-1980s it was estimated there were less than 50 individuals left in the wild, so it is such a huge milestone for us that we have now bred over that number here at Zoos SA.
“This season we have had six little ones hatch and we have four more viable eggs, so we have our fingers crossed!
“Since Zoos SA became involved in the conservation of this special species we have had 33 individuals returned to Perth to form part of the rewilding program, and we hope to send 13 more in the near future.”
Endemic to Western Australia, the Western Swamp Tortoise is Australia’s most endangered reptile.
Wild Western Swamp Tortoise populations are currently only found in two small swamp reserves in WA, but they face habitat loss and predation from introduced species like foxes, cats, dogs and pigs.
Sadly, climate change has also added further pressure to the species, with declining winter and spring rainfall wreaking havoc on their critical swamp habitats.
Thanks to amazing partners like TCM Electronics, Zoos SA is able to continue our vital conservation work with threatened species like the Western Swamp Tortoise.
You can learn more about eggs and the conservation of species this weekend at Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park.
At Easter we often celebrate with chocolate eggs, but eggs symbolise so much for wildlife and the environment around us.
Hop in and tick off all five stops on the Easter trail to find out how different native species use tree hollows to lay and protect their eggs, about some species that lay eggs, and how we can support their conservation in the wild.
Visitors can also complete a word scramble to collect a free Melba’s Chocolates and Confectionery Easter bilby.
For more information about Western Swamp Tortoises and Zoos SA conservation programs, visit www.zoossa.com.au.