Tiny baby turtle offers hope for species thought to be extinct

January 26, 2017, 7:26 a.m.
An endangered baby turtle hatches from the shell
Photo: Turtle Conservancy

In 1908, the Arakan forest turtle was thought to be gone forever. But that changed when a forest turtle was rediscovered in a food market in 1994.

As the tiny turtle pictured here hatches from its shell at Turtle Conservancy's center in California, so too hatches a little ray of hope for this critically endangered species. This is the first hatchling of its species in two years in the captive breeding program.

"The conservancy is home to one male and four female adult Arakan forest turtles, along with over 700 other endangered turtles and tortoises," reports the Turtle Conservancy. "The animals make up an 'assurance colony' that is directed toward establishing a genetically viable population until conservationists can stabilize threatened wild populations."

Along with the breeding program, the conservancy works to protect habitat, which includes habitat needed to be able to release captive-bred Arakan forest turtles back into the wild.

“This is a great step forward for a species that was once thought to be gone forever,” said Dr. Paul Gibbons, chief operating officer of the Turtle Conservancy. “Hopefully our efforts, along with our global partners, will ensure that the Arakan forest turtle never faces extinction again.”