Toronto Zoo Celebrates Birth Of Its First Critically Endangered Tortoise

by : Niamh Shackleton on :
Toronto Zoo Celebrates Birth Of Its First Critically Endangered TortoiseToronto Zoo

Toronto Zoo is celebrating the birth of its first critically endangered tortoise.

The Madagascar spider tortoise was born on Saturday, May 2, and is the first hatchling of the species the zoo has had.


The egg was laid in October and was closely monitored in incubation by zoo keepers for six months.

eggToronto Zoo

Listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the newest addition came as great news for both the zoo and for the species, as numbers of the tortoise have decreased in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching for the pet and food trade.

Upon zookeepers discovering the egg last year, it was moved to an incubator where it was kept at 28-30°C before later being kept at a cooler 20°C. It was then kept back at its original temperature of 28-30°C for the last three or four months before hatching.


The Madagascan spider tortoise was last assessed by the IUCN in 2008 and, despite conservation work in places like Tornoto Zoo, the species numbers are still declining.

Native to southwestern parts of Madagascar, the animals apparently get their unique name from eye-catching web-like patterns of yellow and black on its upper shell.

ZooToronto Zoo

Dr. Andrew Lentini, Senior Director Wildlife and Science at the Toronto Zoo said:

The Toronto Zoo is proud to support efforts to save and protect turtles and tortoises around the world as a member of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).

Every year thousands of endangered Madagascar tortoises are illegally collected by poachers and destined for either the butcher block or Asian pet trade.

Many are confiscated by Malagasy authorities and are placed for rehabilitation and treatment before being reintroduced into the wild or placed in long-term conservation breeding programs like those in accredited zoos like Toronto Zoo.

Tortoise PA Images

Dolf DeJong, Toronto Zoo CEO, added:


This is a great example of the critical work done at the Toronto Zoo with our world class wildlife care team. This is your Toronto Zoo living our mission of connecting people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction.


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The zoo has been working with the critically endangered species for 11 years, so the spider tortoise hatchling will come as a huge achievement for them.

While the tortoise’s gender and name have yet to be revealed, I think Shelly would be a good choice. Just a thought.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, endangered species, Toronto


Toronto Zoo
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