05 Oct TURTLE ARK
Aussie Ark, alongside the Australian Reptile Park, are celebrating the opening of their brand new facility – Turtle Ark! The state-of-the-art breeding facility, located on the Australian Reptile Park’s site, will be the headquarters of both organisations in their effort to save the endangered Hunter River and Bell’s turtle from imminent extinction.
Endemic to the waterways of NSW, the Manning River turtle, Hunter River and Bell’s turtles’ future is haunted by the predation of foxes and feral pigs, as well as habitat degradation and disease. Their survival depends on the tangible actions posed by Aussie Ark, as no other organisations have put in place any conservation plan for the species.
Turtle Ark will be the first turtle facility to allow wildlife enthusiasts to experience first-hand the work Aussie Ark is doing to save both turtle species. Turtle Ark is divided in three distinct sections: breeding enclosures, large inground natural ponds, and a Turtle Lab where keepers will monitor the hatchlings and the insurance populations growth, guard the specialised egg incubators as well as educate visitors on the challenges our beautiful native freshwater turtles face. Additionally, Turtle Ark will act as the nerve centre for the breeding programs, providing a space for its keepers to study the turtle species and their behaviours.
“At Aussie Ark, we strongly believe in transparency and the power of education in long-term conservation. With our Manning River turtle facility previously inaccessible to the public, we deemed essential that our supporters have the chance to stroll around Turtle Ark and have a personal contact with species that deeply need their help,” says Tim Faulkner, Aussie Ark President and the Australian Reptile Park’s General Manager.
Following Aussie Ark’s proven model in establishing robust and healthy insurance populations and by utilising this knowledge, as well as the husbandry expertise of the Australian Reptile Park, Aussie Ark and the Reptile Park will return robust populations of Hunter River and Bell’s turtle to their natural habitat.
Tim Faulkner continues: “Although being first and foremost a breeding facility where insurance populations of freshwater turtles are to be established, Turtle Ark is an absolutely beautiful facility where visitors can learn all about our endangered turtles. There is really nothing quite like them out there!”
Turtle Ark creates the perfect environment to enable insurance populations to be breed in an effort to bolster the species’ numbers. Aussie Ark aims to be releasing between 200 to 300 turtles per year once the breeding programs are up and running. Wild release will consist of hatchlings of 1-2 years of age having originated either from the breeding facility or from eggs collected from the wild and incubated by Aussie Ark and the Australian Reptile Park.