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1 May 2013

The birth of three critically endangered Asian turtles is an awesome achievement for Melbourne Zoo’s Reptile Keepers.

Chinese Three-striped Box Turtles, commonly known as Golden Coin Turtles, are now all but extinct in the wild, as the result of extensive poaching to supply the illegal wildlife trade.

This is an Australian first breeding success, and also very rare in world terms.

The tiny threesome is now on view in the Reptile House, and Keepers emphasise they will play an important role in highlighting the Asian Turtle Crisis to Zoo visitors.

These turtles are native to creeks in rainforests throughout South-east Asia and southern China, and like many other turtles species in the region they are poached to meet the demand in China, both as food and an ingredient in traditional remedies.

Melbourne Zoo is part of an international effort to breed species affected by the Asian Turtle Crisis, and two partner zoos overseas sent turtles here as part of this priority breeding program.

At this age, the tiny turtles rarely emerge from the water, and they feed on small bits of meat and fish.  Later in life, when they venture out of the water, the Keepers will add vegetable matter such as leafy greens to their diet.

Now that Keepers are confident that the hatchlings are doing well, they are on display in the Reptile House.