Wildlife enthusiasts in the city have one more reason to cheer as officials of the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur opened a specialised renovated enclosure to host four pairs of turtles, including a rare species on Friday.
The four turtle species are Black Pond turtle, Tricarinate Hill turtle, Albino Flab Shelled turtle and the rare Red Eared Slider. On Friday, visitors thronged the new enclosure to obtain a glimpse of the reptiles. “It’s amazing to watch the slow-moving turtles, especially the white flab shelled turtle,” said S. Rohit, a class VII student.
Zoo officials said that earlier, the four turtles had to share a crammed space with three other endemic varieties of turtles. This had restricted their movement. As a result, zoo officials decided to renovate a dilapidated enclosure to host the four species to allow ease of movement. Each turtle pair has a separate small enclosure within the larger common structure with at least 50 sq. ft of space for the turtles.
Sand beds have also been created for the turtles to lay eggs and hatch them. A tiled pathway has been set up for visitors. On an average, at least 100 visitors can watch the turtles in the enclosure at any given time. “The renovation was done at a cost of Rs. 1 lakh in 20 days. Special glass panels have been provided to help visitors get a clear view of the reptiles,” said a zoo official.
A native of southern United States and northern Mexico, the red eared slider is a semi-aquatic pet turtle. Zoo officials said red eared sliders get their name from the small red dash around their ears. They are referred to as ‘sliders’ due to their ability to quickly slide off rocks and logs into water. They are omnivores and eat fish, carrion, tadpoles, snails and aquatic plant species.