Six critically-endangered Madagascan turtles born in Jersey Zoo

The freshwater turtles are at risk of exctinction. Credit: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Six critically-endangered Madagascan turtles have been hatched in Jersey Zoo for the first time.

The rare big-headed reptiles were born from turtles that had been confiscated from smugglers in Hong Kong.

They are known as 'Rere' in Madagascan, and are at risk of extinction unless protected in their home country and overseas.

In their natural habitat, the turtles are often caught by fishermen and eaten by humans.

Another threat the turtles face is the destruction of their marsh habitat where they hide from fishing nets and traps.

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is working with local communities in Madagascar to help people find alternative food sources so they no longer see the turtles as something to eat.

It is hoped that by breeding the big-headed turtles in Jersey Zoo, the species can be protected for years to come.

Durrell's Head of Herpetology, Matt Goetz, says: "This is not only significant for our team but is also only the second time a European zoo has had offspring by this species.

"The hatchlings here will enable us to develop more husbandry insights to advise our Malagasy colleagues at our turtle captive breeding centre in Madagascar."