On the initiative of American Tortoise Rescue, May 23 was designated World Turtle Day in 2000 for celebrating our shelled friends and raising public awareness of them, thus contributing to conservation efforts around the world. Currently, 137 out of the 327 turtle and tortoise species we know of are protected by law.
You can learn a lot about turtles and tortoises here as the Debrecen Zoo is home to 12 species altogether, including the razor-backed musk turtle, the Hermann’s tortoise, the common musk turtle, the Chinese softshell turtle, the Mississippi map turtle, the European pond turtle, the Greek tortoise, the yellow bellied slider and the red-eared slider, the African spurred tortoise and the keeled box turtle.
A lot of the world’s turtle and tortoise species are endangered – Hermann’s tortoises, for instance, are labelled Near Threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Best recognized by their ocher shells with patterns of dark patches, these peaceful animals may live up to 100 years in captivity if appropriate conditions are provided. You can check them out in the outdoor terrarium on the Mediterranean Walk connecting the Zoo and the Amusement Park.
The mighty African spurred tortoise is the largest tortoise species in Africa, with a maximum shell length of 80 centimeters and a maximum weight of 105 kilograms. Its name comes from the spur-like outgrowths on its rear legs. The color of its back shell ranges from yellowish to dark brown, while its belly is ivory. It is threatened by both habitat destruction and illegal trade. Fortunately, our individuals have proven quite prolific every year, with 39 hatchlings altogether. As summer is coming, they will soon be moving outdoors to the Catta Walk to be exhibited along with our ring-tailed lemurs.
The IUCN Red List also includes Hungary’s only indigenous turtle species, the European pond turtle. Found predominantly in the silty still waters and slow-moving streams of the lowlands, this species likes to bask on logs or rocks in sunlit ponds. Since it is mostly endangered by the rapid spreading of red-eared sliders released into the wild, the European Union has banned all import of red-eared sliders, making the yellow-bellied slider the most common pet turtle species available. The two sliders are best told apart by the color of the stripes (red or yellow) on either side of their heads. They are both considered sturdy and highly adaptive, so it is imperative that we protect our indigenous turtle population from them. As for our individuals, you can check them out in the Duck Pond opposite the Giraffe House.
Source: Debrecen Zoo and Amusement Park Official Facebook Page