Tennessee aquarium welcomes 7 baby turtles endangered in wilderness, experts call it a ‘small victory’

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A bale of Arakan forest turtles — a critically endangered species — were welcomed to the world recently at an aquarium in Tennessee. 

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, announced the arrival of seven hatchlings. 

The aquarium put out a press release with the good news and shared that it’s rare for all seven of the eggs that were laid to fully emerge. 

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Aquarium herpetology coordinator Bill Hughes said that the emergency of all seven of the laid eggs was “really great.”

“Every individual that hatches is a small victory because it’s one more in the population in human care when their population in the wild is declining,” he said in the press release. 

The aquarium said the Arakan forest turtles are endangered due to habitat destruction in Myanmar and Bangladesh and the “unwelcomed attention of illegal traffickers supplying the pet trade and food markets.”

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The turtles’ population has decreased 80% over the last 75 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

The new arrivals in Tennessee are considered the largest group of Arakan forest turtles ever to hatch at a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), according to the Tennessee Aquarium. 

The aquarium said that these turtles can only be found at six facilities nationwide due to their rarity. 

This isn’t the first time the Tennessee Aquarium has stuck gold with birthing new Arakan forest turtles.

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Last year, the aquarium welcomed its first-ever Arakans ­— two turtles that emerged from six eggs that were laid. 

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In the last year alone, the Tennessee Aquarium said that the population of Arakan forest turtles in AZA facilities like its own has increased by 27%. 

Hughes said that “having a viable population spread across zoos and aquariums is important.”

He added, “Then, if something happened to the last few in the wild, they wouldn’t totally be extinct.”

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Hughes explained that he hopes to hatch enough new Arakans to get a surplus and distribute them to other zoos in an effort to eliminate the risk of endangerment. 

The rare turtles will be available for viewing by visitors to the aquarium soon. 

The species is known to live in mountainous evergreen and bamboo forests. The turtles typically eat vegetation, bamboo flowers and immature bamboo seeds, according to the Turtle Survival Alliance.

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“Camouflaged by its dark brown skin and dark brown to tan carapace, this turtle seamlessly blends into the leafy forest floor it traverses,” said the same organization. “This turtle has been observed burrowing under leaves during the hottest parts of the day, and is largely active at night.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Tennessee Aquarium for additional comment and updates. 

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