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Rare species in a half-shell as turtle power comes to Chester.

FIVE healthy babies belonging to a rare species of turtle have made an appearance at Chester Zoo.

The Annam leaf turtle from south-east Asia is dangerously close to extinction because it is highly sought-after in the food and traditional medicine markets of the Far East. It is believed to be the first time the species has successfully been bred in the UK.

The turtles are now so rare in the wild, zoo visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of them will be disappointed - they are being kept "off show" in specially designed enclosures which are not open to the public.

Richard Gibson, the zoo's curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates, said: "We are delighted these eggs have hatched to produce five healthy babies and we are hoping for more.

"We have further fertile eggs in incubation and there are promising signs several may hatch. We have to maintain them in a secure environment, with minimal disturbance, so they are kept off-show in specially designed enclosures in climatecontrolled facilities.

"Noise and activity around these animals can cause stress, undermining both their health and their reproductive potential."

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Five baby Annam leaf turtles have been bred at Chester Zoo - but don't expect to see them
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2009
Words:204
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