SAN DIEGO (AP) — It only took two decades, but a rare and endangered turtle species has finally bred at the San Diego Zoo.
Zoo officials on Monday announced the arrival of 41 tiny Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle hatchlings.
Conservationists from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance had for 20 years closely monitored three adult turtles for any indications of breeding.
“This is an extremely prolonged process as the turtles can take close to 10 years to even reach sexual maturity,” according to a news release.
On top of that, the reptiles are known to lay their eggs at night and cover them with dirt — adding to the difficulty of locating a nest.
Two nests were found over the summer containing 41 eggs. All survived.
The hatchings make the alliance the first accredited conservation organization in North America to hatch the endangered Indian narrow-headed softshell turtles, officials said.
“This is a thrilling moment for us at the San Diego Zoo, and an incredible step forward in the conservation of this species,” zoo curator Kim Gray said.
The turtles, also called small-headed softshell turtle, are a large species native to the Indian subcontinent. They are found at the bottom of deep rivers and streams in northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal.