Tortoise in wild revival
Australia’s most endangered reptile – the western swamp tortoise – has been given a new lease of life.
A $1.4 million breeding centre aimed at saving the tortoise, believed extinct until its rediscovery in 1953, opened at Perth Zoo yesterday.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the centre would play a key role in safeguarding the species’ future.
« There are less than 1000 western swamp tortoises in the wild and this breeding program is absolutely critical to their survival, » he said.
The zoo’s breeding program for the species has bred more than 800 tortoises, with 668 being released into the wild.
Mr Jacob said the importance of the program and the new area, which can care for up to 250 tortoises, could not be compared to any in Australia.
Perth zookeeper Lesley Shaw said the tortoises would thrive in their new environment.
The facility, funded by the State Government, used in-kind contributions from Boral Midland Brick, including building materials and other services.
Perth schoolboy Andrew Triglavcanin, 13, also helped raise money for the centre, raising about $400 by selling lemons on his verge.
The Christ Church Grammar School student said he was honoured to be a part of the process.
« Seeing these little tortoises being released just means a lot to me . . . seeing what I’ve done to help, » Andrew said.