little turtle in Chattanooga may represent the first
successful reproduction of Sacalia bealei in
a North American institution,” says Walder.
more than 500 turtles representing 70 species, the
Tennessee Aquarium exhibits more turtles than any
other public facility in the world and is renowned
for turtle conservation research.
clutch of three eggs was deposited around April 14th
of this year, but only one of those eggs turned out
to be fertile. Upon hatching, the baby turtle
weighed just 6 grams and was only 38 millimeters long. There
are only 18 known Beal’s four-eyed turtles in
public zoos and aquariums throughout the United States
and Europe. There are only seven males, five
females and six of unknown sex including the one at
the Tennessee Aquarium.
this species has such a low reproductive rate it
is doubtful they will ever return to the large numbers
of Beal’s turtles seen in
the wild just a few decades ago.
Beal’s four-eyed turtle gets its name from
the ocelli or false eye markings on the back
of the turtle’s head. These animals
were once common throughout southern China but
have seen significant declines in their population
in recent years. “As
with many Asian species the Beal’s four-eyed
turtle has been over collected for use in the Chinese
food and traditional medicine trade,” reports
animal like the Beal’s four-eyed turtle is
considered endangered when the population of an organism
is at risk of becoming extinct. The World Conservation
Union has calculated the percentage of endangered species
as 40 percent of all organisms based on the sample
of species that have been evaluated through 2006.
male Beal’s four-eyed turtle can be seen in
the Aquarium’s “Rivers of the World” gallery
located on the second level of the River Journey building. The
Tennessee Aquarium’s newest turtle will be housed
off exhibit to minimize stress and encourage feeding
until it is hearty enough for public viewing.
Dallas Zoo and the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero,
California are the only other public institutions
with Beal’s four-eyed turtles in their collections
in the United States. The Charles Paddock Zoo
received their turtle from the Tennessee Aquarium.