ATCN News

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March 9, 2010


Third Time's the Charm?

Rafetus_nestingDr. Gerald Kuchling and the rest of team TSA will be headed back to the Suzhou Zoo in April for the third breeding attempt of the Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), one of the most endangered turtles in the world. (Click here to read more on the background of this historic conservation project.)
Hopes are high this year for a number of reasons. First of all, the turtles' diet has been significantly improved and they have been receiving more optimal nutrition for long enough now that we believe it will be reflected in healthier eggs. In addition, the turtles will soon begin receiving a pellet feed produced by Mazuri Exotic Animal Nutrition, a company that has had a long relationship with the TSA, having donated pallets of turtle and tortoise diet to assist with a 2001 confiscation and sponsored several TSA conferences. For this project, Mazuri has donated eight bags of their crocodile diet, which we believe will help provide some of the mineral and trace elements that may have been lacking from the Rafetus' previous diet. Four bags are currently in transport by sea and the TSA is currently seeking funds (or a sponsorship) to transport the remaining four bags by air carrier to Hong Kong.
 
There are several people that made the donation of this feed (and the inclusion of the feed in the turtles' diet) possible and we'd like to extend our thanks to all of them: Lonnie McCaskill (TSA/Disney's Animal Kingdom), David Salmon and Liz Koutsos, PhD (Mazuri), Tan Kit Sun (Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden), Adrian Lau (Totoro Supplies), Gary Ades, Chen Daqing (Suzhou Zoo), Eduardo V. Valdés, PhD (WDW Animal Programs), Gerald Kuchling PhD (TSA/University of Western Australia) and Lu Shunqing PhD (WCS).
 
In addition to the diet improvements, the barrier that the TSA sponsored around the breeding pond last year has limited the amount of trash ingested by the female - an issue that was a significant problem before. The TSA is currently seeking funding to build a similar barrier around the larger Rafetus pond. Having a barrier around this pond as well would allow for more flexibility in managing these animals and limit the amount of litter that they are exposed to in both of their holding areas.