CHATTANOOGA, TN – July 9, 2019 – During back-to-back incubator inspections on May 18-19, Tennessee Aquarium herpetologists discovered a pair of recently hatched Four-eyed Turtles. Less than two weeks later, another hatchling emerged from the nest of a critically endangered species, the Beale’s Four-eyed Turtle. A second Beale’s hatchling appeared two weeks after, the offspring of a pair of adults that have been at the aquarium since 1996.
With the additions of these two most-recent hatchlings, the aquarium has successfully added 17 more Beale’s, almost doubling the population being cared for at AZA-accredited institutions.
During the same period, the aquarium hatched 40 Four-eyed Turtles, a species which has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2000.
Four-eyed Turtles and Beale’s Four-eyed Turtles are so named for the false eye spots on top of their heads. Both species belong to the genus Sacalia and are native to Southeast Asia, where their numbers have been declining due to habitat loss and over-collection from the wild.
Despite having produced dozens of hatchlings, successfully breeding these endangered turtle species is a significant challenge. Unlike some turtle species that can produce multiple clutches of eggs annually, Four-eyed and Beale’s Four-eyed Turtles lay only a single clutch of two to three eggs each year. Once the eggs arrive, hatchlings aren’t guaranteed. Changes to ambient temperature and humidity or any number of other carefully controlled environmental factors could negatively impact their viability.
Over the years, the aquarium has sent its Beale’s Four-eyed Turtle and Four-eyed Turtle hatchlings to institutions throughout the U.S, including the Knoxville Zoo (Knoxville, Tennessee), the Bronx Zoo (New York City) and Cameron Park Zoo (Waco, Texas).
For more information on Tennessee Aquarium’s conservation efforts, visit www.tnaqua.org.
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