Rare Turtles Hatch at World of Reptiles

December 17, 2012

Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles have hatched at the Bronx Zoo, a hopeful sign for the future of this critically endangered species. To stimulate breeding, experts began by creating the perfect atmosphere.

Yellow-headed box turtles used to thrive in eastern China, but human consumption, habitat loss, and the pet trade have driven them to the brink of extinction. With only 150 of these rare reptiles remaining in the wild, the Bronx Zoo began breeding an assurance colony. The happy result? Five baby turtles, now at home in the World of Reptiles’ nursery.

To get their parents in the mood, experts recreated environmental and climatic conditions these Chinese turtles would have encountered in the wild. The zoo’s herpetologists knew that the turtles would require a period of hibernation in order to breed, and so they encouraged this behavior by gradually lowering the temperature inside their habitat. For yellow-headed box turtles, a long sleep makes for good romance.

Learn more about these hatchlings at NBC New York>>