Western pond turtle hatchlings arrive at the Oregon Zoo - KPTV - FOX 12

Western pond turtle hatchlings arrive at the Oregon Zoo

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An Oregon Zoo conservationist examines western pond turtle hatchlings. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo. An Oregon Zoo conservationist examines western pond turtle hatchlings. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Some tiny turtles have arrived at the Oregon Zoo.

Last week, zookeeper Michelle Schireman took charge of 20 western pond turtle hatchlings.

According to the Oregon Zoo, the hatchlings were collected by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Service from the Columbia Gorge to protect them from predators such as the American bullfrog.

Staff say the western pond turtle is listed as an endangered species in Washington and a sensitive species in Oregon.

“We’re at a critical point with this species,” Schireman said. “We really have to grow them up in their population numbers if we’re going to save them in time.”

The zoo will be caring for the hatchlings until next spring when they will be large enough to avoid predators and survive in the wild.

According to the Oregon Zoo, the conservation effort can be seen by zoo visitors. The turtle conservation lab is in the Cascade Stream and Pond portion of the zoo’s Great Northwest section.

“Life’s pretty easy here in the lab if you’re a little pond turtle,” Schireman said. “As a result, they grow to about the size of a 3-year-old during the nine months that they stay with us.”

Once the turtles reach about 70 grams (a little more than 2 ounces), they will be returned to their natural habitat and monitored for safety.

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