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      Rosamond Gifford Zoo welcomes 27 yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles

      Amazon River turtle, Rosamond Gifford Zoo

      There are a few new additions to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo .

      Twenty-seven yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles hatched at the zoo between April 5 and April 12. Named for the yellow spots on the side of its head, it is one of the largest river turtles in South America. "The hatching of these once endangered species is exciting for us, as many of them will enhance the exhibits at other accredited zoos around the country," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "Captive breeding programs are often critical in the survival of a species, and this is a success story we are proud to tell."

      The Amazon River turtle is a vulnerable species, threatened by over hunting, the pet trade and climate change. Aggressive conservation and breeding programs in their native countries is helping to sustain the population, which was once on the endangered species list. Importation of this species is now strictly regulated by federal law but a captive self-sustaining population exists in the U.S. Some are at zoos, others are in the hands of private collectors. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of just 70 institutions world-wide to house yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles.

      "These turtles born in North America will most likely end up in other zoos and other aquariums that are working with these and similar species," said Fox.

      Females typically lay two clutches of eggs each year, each with up to 50 eggs in it. They make their nests in sandy areas on the banks of rivers where the eggs will hatch two to three months after they are laid. In the wild, eggs are laid at the peak of the dry season so the nest will not be washed away.

      The baby turtles will be on exhibit at the zoo for a limited time and will eventually be transferred to zoos and aquariums around the country.