Nature and the Environment
in the News

Source: TSA Newsletter
Date: May 1, 2009

Second Chance for the Yangtze giant softshell turtle?
The second year of the Rafetus breeding program at the Suzhou Zoo is again underway. The male has been basking in shallow water regularly since 18 March and the female since 19 March (pictured).

On 23 April representatives of the Suzhou Zoo, the Changsha Zoo, the China Zoo Society, WCS China (Lu Shunqing) and TSA (Gerald Kuchling) had a meeting at the Suzhou Zoo to establish the Rafetus breeding work plan for 2009. At the end of that meeting Gerald and Lu donated prints of the official TSA Rafetus painting to Director Xie Zhongsan of the Changsha Zoo and to Vice Director Chen Daqing of the Suzhou Zoo. Based on the behavior of the animals, the gate in the breeding pond was opened for pairing on 26 April.

Mating and possible copulation were observed the same day (pictured), approximately 2 weeks earlier than in 2008. Nesting last year occurred in early June, and we are hoping for the first clutch of eggs in late May or early June. A second copulation was observed on 28 April and we are optimistic that 2009 is the year of the Rafetus. Thanks to Gerald Kuchling and Lu Shunqing for providing the information for this report!

The story of the Rafetus and the TSA's involvement was recently highlighted in the PBS/Nature Program "The Loneliest Animals", which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here