AS the world observed World Environment Day on Friday, a 100-plus-year-old South American river turtle at the Emperor Valley Zoo welcomed 18 new hatchlings.
In a Facebook post, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat said the turtle laid the eggs “just over two months ago” on land as opposed to the pond.
“The zoo felt this was due to the closure of the facility in mid-March and the comfort the turtle may have felt in venturing out the pond and onto the sandy area to deposit the eggs. The hatching today is excellent news and demonstrates the importance on World Environment Day of striking the balance between human activity and care for nature. “
Speaking with Newsday, president of the Zoological Society Gupte Lutchmedial said the turtle doesn’t have a name. But he said sometimes, she’s simply called Centenarian owing to her age.
“The curator of the zoo was the first one who saw it this morning and I saw it a few minutes after him. But the moment rain fell last night, we knew we had to check the nest. With rain, they know they could follow the water and get into the rivers. Most of the times they lay on banks and the water will dry up in the dry season.”
Curator of the zoo, Nirmal Biptah, told Newsday he was really happy, adding that the zoo was the “first in the world” to breed this type of turtle.
“We have since sent to other zoos around the world. As far as we know, we have the oldest of this type of turtle in the world, so whatever happening here is like a record.
“When we first bred them in 1985, I was one of the people who set up the breeding.
Asked how this type of turtle differs from others, he said it is the largest fresh-water turtle in the world.
“Females can grow up to 100 pounds,” he said.
“They lay on riverbanks, unlike other turtles which look for tree roots and that kinda thing to lay.
“This is the time they usually hatch because the rain helps to loosen the soil, so even though they would have started hatching a few days before… Animals have biological clocks in them. So they know when the rain is gonna fall and stuff.”