In 2021, the Zoological Society of New Jersey donated funds to the Asian Turtle Program (“ATP”), a group dedicated to the protection of Asian tortoises and freshwater turtles. These funds were directed to the ATP’s Mauremys annamensis Project, an initiative which researches and protects the Vietnamese pond turtle, and increases awareness of the species. The information available about this critically endangered species is limited, and much remains unknown. In 2018, the project identified swamps as a suitable habitat for these turtles, however, much of the available wetlands were lost to the rice cultivation industry. By bringing attention to the species that thrive in these areas, the ATP has helped to ensure that the remaining wetlands are protected, in order to better support the wild population.
Despite being protected under local laws, turtles are still hunted for the wildlife trade. The Mauremys annamensis Project works to confiscate these turtles and enter them into breeding programs. Ensuring a genetically diverse population helps combat the threat of disease and provides protection for the growing species. The project has cleared over 200 turtles to be released back into the wild as a result of these breeding programs.
With the reopening of its Amazing Asia exhibit area and the inclusion of the Vietnamese pond turtle within the exhibit, Turtle Back Zoo strengthens its commitment to the Species Survival Program (“SSP”) for the Vietnamese pond turtle. The Zoo contributes substantially to the program via a breeding program intended to help maintain biologically sound, genetically diverse populations in AZA-accredited zoos of animals which are endangered in the wild, to better support the critically endangered species. The SSP ensures that if a particular species population becomes extinct in its natural wild habitat, a viable breeding population will still exist in various zoological settings, thereby allowing the species to endure.
In addition to providing an excellent environment for the resident Vietnamese pond turtles, the Amazing Asia exhibit area affords visitors excellent vantage points from which to view the turtles in their new exhibit, which closely replicates their natural habitat. This provides visitors with a more interactive experience, and helps to educate them regarding conservation of the species.
The Zoological Society of New Jersey is proud to bolster both local and global efforts in support of the Vietnamese pond turtle. Through membership purchases, donations, and other funds raised, the Society is able to continue with its commitment and contributions to conservation, in order to protect endangered species and their habitats.
Interested in aiding our commitment to conservation?
Become a Member of Turtle Back Zoo or Donate to the Zoological Society of New Jersey.
Donate to our Programs. (2022). Retrieved from Asian Turtle Program: https://asianturtleprogram.org/donate/
New suitable habitat of Vietnamese Pond Turtle in Phu Yen province . (2018, December 12). Retrieved from Asian Turtle Program: https://asianturtleprogram.org/2018-12-new_habitat_for_mauremys_annamensis/
Mauremys Project. (2022). Retrieved from Asian Turtle Program: https://asianturtleprogram.org/mauremys-project/