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The two new Galapagos Tortoise hatchlings

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is thrilled to announce further success in its Galapagos Tortoise breeding program, with two hatchlings born on 24 and 26 January 2014.

These hatchlings follow the Zoo’s breakthrough breeding achievement in 2011, being the first Zoo in Australasia to successfully breed Galapagos Tortoise.

The two new hatchlings are both doing well under the watchful eye of their keepers and are gradually gaining weight. They now weigh approximately 30 grams more than when they hatched.

“Like adult Galapagos Tortoise, the hatchlings respond to bright coloured foods such as hibiscus and rose petals, but they also enjoy small amounts of green vegetables and browse,” said Supervisor, Jennifer Conaghan.

“At present the hatchlings are being kept in an off-display area that is temperature controlled to ensure optimum conditions for them, and they spend some time out in the sun with their keepers each day. They are currently too small to join the three year old hatchling, NJ, born in 2011, which now weighs 1100grams,” said Jennifer.

The continued breeding success of this species is testament to the dedication and expertise of the team at the Zoo, who are working tirelessly to perfect incubation techniques and monitoring of the females when in oestrus.

“The hatchlings will take 20 – 25 years before they reach their full size and can live up to 150 years. We will be able to determine if these two hatchlings are male or female once they reach five years of age,” said Jennifer.

“We are hopeful we can continue to build on this success again later this year, as the 2014 breeding season has already commenced with lots of early interest from the males in the females.”

Galapagos Tortoise are classified as vulnerable in the wild, the population could be as low as 10,000 remaining on the Galapagos Archipelago, where feral animals are the main threat to the species.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, winner of the National Tourism Award for Best Attraction 2013, is located in Dubbo in Central Western NSW and is open every day.  For more information about the Zoo visit www.taronga.org.au or contact 6881 1400.

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