BROOKLYN — The Prospect Park Zoo recently hatched five Chinese big-headed turtles.
The births in November are the first time the endangered species has been successfully reproduced in a North American zoo, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. The turtles, which can grow to seven inches in length, are named for their solid bone skull, which is too big to retract into their shell.
“The success we are seeing at this point in our turtle propagation work is encouraging,” WCS executive vice president and Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny said in a statement. “Our work on breeding endangered turtles utilizes the expertise found throughout the entire WCS organization as well as various partner organizations with whom we work.”
The turtles, whose genders have still not been determined, will not be on display, but will live behind the scenes at the Prospect Park Zoo as part of the WCS's effort to save endangered tortoise and freshwater turtles from extinction, a spokeswoman for the organization said.
The turtles' parents have been at the zoo since 2004, officials said.
For those who want to see the turtles in action, there is one adult female on display at the zoo's Animals in Our Lives building.
There are 15 turtles living at the Bronx and Prospect Park zoos.
The big-headed turtles are native to China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The turtles are often hunted and traded, leading to their population decline, according to zoo officials.