Adelaide Zoo

A win for conservation! New births announced on Endangered Species Day

On Endangered Species Day, a day to inspire action to protect threatened species, Zoos SA is thrilled to announce new births of not one but two critically endangered species as part of conservation breeding programs.

At Adelaide Zoo, keepers are shell-ebrating the hatching of three Western Swamp Tortoises. Native to Western Australia, the tiny tortoises are Australia’s most endangered reptile.

Senior Keeper of Reptiles and Herpetofauna, Hollie Lister, said when the tortoises first hatched they were the size of a ten cent coin.

“Every year we run a breeding season with Western Swamp Tortoise adults here at Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park. We then take the eggs and put them in a big incubation chamber at a certain temperature. We slowly drop the temperature to encourage natural cycles and the season changing which encourages the little ones to hatch out.

“We work with Perth Zoo on this breeding program which is a breed for release program, meaning we are breeding the little tortoises with the aim of releasing them back into the wild habitat.

“Zoos SA is the only organisation outside of Western Australia working on this specialised breeding program and the team is incredibly proud of the contribution we’re making in saving this amazing native species,” said Hollie.

For more than 100 years it was thought the Western Swamp Tortoise had gone extinct until it was rediscovered in 1953. Thanks to the successful breeding program, the population has grown to around 200 tortoises.

The hoppy news continues at Monarto Safari Park with a routine pouch check revealing two Brush-tailed Bettongs are carrying joeys in their pouches.

Assistant Curator of Natives, Tom Hurley, said every joey is incredibly important in boosting the population of this critically endangered species.

“The joeys are in the very early stages of development and are the size of a jellybean. They are attached to mum’s teat inside her pouch and will start to poke their heads out around the three to four month mark.

“Brush-tailed Bettongs might be a lesser known native species, but they play a big role in the ecosystem as soil engineers. One bettong can turn over six tonnes of soil per year which allows native seeds to germinate and disperse,” said Tom.

The joeys have a lot of growing to do but all going well will be among the founding animals of Monarto Safari Park’s Mallee Sanctuary. The project will see over 60 hectares of scrub become a ‘half-way’ house for the soft release of conservation-dependant animals.

Endangered Species Day rounds out a week of conservation action, with the Reverse the Red World Species Congress held on Wednesday. The congress brought together conservation experts across the globe to share projects making an impact in saving species from extinction.

Each time you visit Adelaide Zoo or Monarto Safari Park, you are supporting Zoos SA’s vital conservation work in saving Western Swamp Tortoises and Brush-tailed Bettongs.