Rare Yellow-Headed Box Turtles Hatch at Bronx Zoo

Monday, Dec 17, 2012  |  Updated 12:31 PM EDT
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Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles, one of the most 25 endangered species of turtles in the world, have hatched at the Bronx Zoo.

Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles, one of the most 25 endangered species of turtles in the world, have hatched at the Bronx Zoo.

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Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles, one of the most 25 endangered species of turtles in the world, have hatched at the Bronx Zoo.

The turtles require specific environmental and climate conditions to stimulate breeding, beginning with hibernation. The zoo's experts worked to create those conditions in the Reptile House.

“We carefully monitor the environment and gradually reduce the temperature in order to induce a natural state of hibernation," Don Boyer, curator of Herpetology at the Bronx Zoo, said in a statement. "Following hibernation, turtle pairs are introduced and carefully monitored to watch for evidence of courtship and breeding activities.”

The species used to thrive in the highlands of the Anhui Province of eastern China, according to the zoo, but the population was depleted because of the turtle's use in medicine, pet trade and human consumption, among other causes.

Fewer than 150 of them remain in the wild, the zoo says.

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