Asian Turtle Crisis
Where: Zoo Atlanta; partner facilities; Asia
More info: turtlesurvival.org   
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Zoo Atlanta has been part of the leadership of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) for 10 years and supports that organization’s effort to preserve turtles around the world through field conservation programs and captive assurance colonies.

Asian turtles reproduced at Zoo Atlanta include the Asian spiny turtle (Heosemys spinosa); Arakan forest turtle (Heosemys depressa); Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota); Burmese black mountain tortoise (Manouria emys phayrei); impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa); Pan’s box turtle (Cuora pani); and Forsten’s tortoise (Indotestudo forstenii). 

In 2004, a female impressed tortoise arrived at the Zoo as part of a confiscation from black-market trade for food. She was in poor health due to digestive problems caused by stones that had been forced down her throat to increase her weight at market. Sam Rivera, DVM, Associate Veterinarian, performed a delicate surgery to cut into her plastron (under the shell) to remove the stones. Happily, seven years later, this same tortoise successfully produced a healthy clutch of hatchlings. 

See photos of the procedure >

Zoo Atlanta and TSA

Turtles are one of the most easily recognizable animals. Because of their unique and distinctive shell, nothing else looks like them, and nothing else acts like them. That shell has served this group of animals well for the more than 300 million years that they have been around on Earth. Even though they were around to watch the dinosaurs come and go, they are having a tough time surviving in a world dominated by people.

Turtles that were once commonplace in remote habitats in far-flung corners of the world, in woods and streams, and even in your own backyard, are now disappearing at an alarming rate because of habitat loss and consumption for food. Turtles’ slow-paced lifestyles and low reproductive rates make them particularly vulnerable to threats that other types of animals can overcome. We are preserving some of the most endangered turtles and tortoises, both here at the Zoo and through our involvement with the Turtle Survival Alliance, to be sure that these often overlooked but incredibly unique creatures don’t disappear from far-off places, as well as in your neighborhood.