These adorable snapping turtles are a boon for a critically-endangered species
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In 2015 Bellinger River Snapping turtles were on the brink of extinction after a mysterious disease almost wiped them out along the sole 25km (16 mile) stretch of river that they inhabit. However, a conservation effort by Taronga Zoo in Sydney is helping to save the species – one which, as you’ll see from the video below, is rather adorably small. The baby turtles weigh between four and five grams at birth, with 31 born in Taronga this year. Their habitual river is found in the north-east of New South Wales, a state in Australia’s south-east. The mysterious virus from 2015 damaged their internal organs and left the turtles blind and starving and the species critically-endangered. Just 200 turtles were thought to be left in the river after the plight, with 90% of the population decimated, but it has since been reported no turtles could be found on the river at all. Experts rescued 16 adult turtles and kept them at the University of Western Sydney in quarantine – before being moved to Taronga Zoo to create the breeding programme that could save the species. The turtle’s long lifespan means they will not reach maturity to start laying eggs themselves for 10 years. This hatching is a second from Taronga, after 21 were born in 2017. “By at least us breeding these guys in captivity it gives them a hope so that in future we can release them back into the wild and slowly repopulate when the time is right,” Adam Skidmore, Reptile Keeper from Taronga Zoo told ABC in 2017. “We’ve still got a long road ahead of us, it’s not something we can fix overnight and these animals have a long journey ahead of them yet.”
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