Bristol

Endangered keeled box turtles hatch at Bristol Zoo

Keeled box turtles Image copyright PA
Image caption The two baby turtles weigh 12g each

Two tiny endangered turtles have hatched at Bristol Zoo.

Keepers said they believed the births of the keeled box turtles - which weigh 12g each - were "a UK first and probably a European first as well".

Curator Tim Skelton said the zoo had spent 12 years trying to breed the creatures and he was "really thrilled".

The species is found in China, India and Vietnam, but numbers are declining due to people catching them for food, or to keep as pets.

There are believed to be 15 keeled box turtles in zoos across Europe and only 49 in the world, with a total of five now in Bristol.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The sex of the two baby turtles is unknown and could take years for keepers to find out

Keepers said the pair had hatched from a clutch of six eggs, and they hoped for at least one more turtle to emerge from the remaining ones.

Mr Skelton said: "About 10 years ago I went to Vietnam and saw them in the jungle so it is especially good to hold ones that we have successfully bred ourselves.

"They are a beautiful orangey-brown colour with vibrant orange flashes underneath their shells, which is something we weren't expecting."

When fully grown, the turtles will be about the size of a side-plate and weigh up to 1kg.

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