Vienna Zoo Species Protection Project Ensures Survival Of One Of The Rarest Turtle Species In The World

The oldest zoo in the world has celebrated Reptile Awareness Day by highlighting a conservation project aimed to ensure the survival of one of the rarest turtle species in the world.

Officials from the Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria initiated the project to rescue the northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) in Bangladesh in 2010.

Tiergarten Schonbrunn/Newsflash

Now in order to raise awareness that one in five reptile species is threatened with extinction on a global scale, more than half of which are turtle species, the zoo celebrated “Reptile Awareness Day” on Thursday, 20th October.

Zoo authorities happily reported that their project which is a collaboration with international project partners including Bangladeshi locals has resulted in over 650 young animals being born to help with repopulation in the past decade.

All of these younglings reportedly hatched in two breeding stations set up as part of the collaboration to protect the species.

Vienna Zoo researcher Doris Preininger said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “We have also already fitted some of the turtles with satellite transmitters and reintroduced them to the mangrove forests.

Image shows a northern river terrapin in the zoo, undated photo. The Vienna Zoo in Austria began the conservation project for the northern river terrapin in 2010. (Norbert Potensky/Newsflash)

“In this way, we can document their migration routes, research their behaviour and test whether they find an intact habitat here.”

The conservation project by the Viennese zoo has been considered one the most successful zoo projects in the world.

Representing one of the three rarest turtle species in the world, the riverine turtle is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

Native to Southeast Asia the turtle is considered extinct in much of its former range including Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Populations can still be found in Bangladesh and India (in the Sundarbans), Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Researcher Doris Preininger at the reintroduction of the Northern river terrapin in Bangladesh, poses in undated photo. The Vienna Zoo in Austria began the conservation project for the northern river terrapin in 2010. (Rupert Kainradl/Newsflash)

Project manager and head of zoo department Anton Weissenbacher said: “First of all, in 2010 we were happy about the world’s first offspring of this extremely rare animal species at Schonbrunn Zoo.

“We have now succeeded in breeding hundreds of animals in Bangladesh.

“However, the large number of fishing nets in the basically well-suited habitat is a great danger for the turtles.

“Together with national authorities, we are working on a sustainable solution to ensure the reintroduction of this turtle species in the long term.”

The project was continued following a two-year-long COVID-19 break in 2022.

Image shows newly hatched northern river terrapins, undated photo. The Vienna Zoo in Austria began the conservation project for the northern river terrapin in 2010. (Anton Weissenbacher/Newsflash)

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Georgina JadikovskaSub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency:  Newsflash

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