Hope for a tiny tortoise

Adelaide Zoo is celebrating a successful breeding season for the critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise, with four hatchlings joining the family this year!

Hatching at Adelaide Zoo over the last three months, these tiny tortoises will play an important role in our work to help secure a future for this remarkable species.

Endemic to Western Australia, this incredible reptile is in serious trouble in the wild, with less than 50 individuals estimated to have been in the wild in the mid 1980s.

Adelaide Zoo reptile keeper John Della says the youngsters’ arrival is a very exciting achievement for the zoo.

“With a total of four little ones currently in their hatchling pond, eating well and gaining weight, this season equals Zoos SA’s best at producing this rare and unique reptile,” John says.

“All of our hatchlings are destined to be released back into the wild, playing a vital role in our work to help save this species from extinction.”

Current populations are found across two small swamp reserves in WA, and are under increasing threat from feral predators such as foxes.

Climate change also brings new pressures for the species, with declining winter and spring rainfall wreaking havoc on their critical swamp habitats.

As a conservation charity, Zoos SA is proud to be one of only two zoos in the world to be involved in a successful breeding program for the species, in which our newest, coin-sized baby tortoises mark an important contribution.

Since 2012, we have now successfully bred and raised sixteen Western Swamp Tortoises, with nine already making the journey back to Western Australia to be released into the wild as part of a conservation program.

The program, led by Parks and Wildlife WA and Perth Zoo, is part of a recovery plan that will ensure a genetically viable population of Western Swamp Tortoises are released back into the wild.

Western Swamp Tortoises are an amazing little animal and one of the oldest reptiles on the planet, with ancestries which date back nearly 20 million years.

By Sophie Hueppauff

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About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction.

Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging.

We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.


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