Endangered Yellow-Blotched Map Turtles Hatch at Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo is excited to announce the hatching of four endangered yellow-blotched map turtles. This hatching ranks Nashville Zoo as the third AZA institution to ever successfully breed these beautifully patterned turtles.
“This is an exciting hatching for the yellow-blotched map turtle and for the Zoo,” says Dale McGinnity, Nashville Zoo’s Ectotherm Curator. “We are bringing awareness to the community about this threatened species and hope to increase support for the protection of this rare turtle’s continued survival in the wild through our conservation efforts.”
During the breeding of this rare species, the Zoo’s Herpetology team was able to decide what sex the hatchlings would be by monitoring the temperatures during the 80-85 day incubation period. Incubating at cooler temperatures typically hatches males and incubating at warmer temperatures hatches more females. When the time is right and the turtles are ready to emerge from their shells, they are equipped with an egg tooth, which is a hardened piece of keratin that protrudes from the tips of their noses. A team of keepers was on standby during hatching to ensure the smooth and safe hatching of each of the four turtles.
Yellow-blotched map turtles (Graptemys flavimaculata) are found exclusively in the Pascagoula River and its tributaries in southern Mississippi. This species was listed as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1991 as well as endangered by the State of Mississippi and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Yellow-blotched map turtles have been of long-term concern due to a very limited range and declining populations due to habitat degradation by pollution and river channel modifications.
Nashville Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for yellow-blotched map turtles to increase the captive population as well as raise awareness for this rare and endangered turtle. Guests can see the Zoo's yellow-blotched map turtles on exhibit inside Unseen New World.
About Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo is accredited by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. Attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually, the Zoo is considered one of the top things to do in Nashville. The Zoo is a non-profit organization located at 3777 Nolensville Pike and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The mission of Nashville Zoo is to inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership. For more information about Nashville Zoo, call 615-833-1534 or visit www.nashvillezoo.org.