ATLANTA — A rare species of turtle has just been born at Zoo Atlanta, and its the first of its kind to hatch there in 30 years.
According to the zoo, the endangered bog turtles are typically found in the eastern part of the country, including the northeast section of our state.
Zoo Atlanta previously had three of these little reptiles, a male and two females, who were hatched in 2014 and 2015. Yet, the zoo notes that these animals did not hatch in their care.
This most recent baby turtle was born in the spring and has been closely monitored every since. The zoo notes that the parents are quite young to have reproduced.
“This is a truly thrilling birth for us at Zoo Atlanta, not only because bog turtles are critically endangered, but also because we have not seen this species reproduce here at the Zoo in three decades,” Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, vice president of collections and conservation said.
So, how big is the baby turtle? According to the zoo, the hatchling has a shell roughly the size of a quarter. They note that bog turtles as a species are the smallest in North America and fully grown adults only reach weights of just under four ounces.
Part of the reason for this species being endangered is the rarity of their ecosystem. The mountain bogs these turtles call home often face habitat destruction for construction of roadways or human communities.
Specifically, the zoo points to the bogs in the southern Appalachians as one of the most critically endangered habitats and are also home to plant species found nowhere else on earth.
For now, the baby turtle is being housed "behind the scenes" with the other two adult females. The zoo notes that the father though can still be found in the Scaly Slimy Spectacular complex.