The painted batagur is one of the largest living fresh water turtle species. It’s also one of the most endangered turtles in South East Asia; the species can now only be found in very small, isolated populations in Southern Thailand, the Malaysian peninsula and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
You can observe this magnificent animal in Monsoon Forest.
During breeding season the head of the male turns white and a red stripe appears between his eyes – this is where they get their name ‘painted terrapin’ from, as these colours look like they have been painted on.
Females swim a few kilometres down-river and lay their eggs on sandy beaches, which is when they are most vulnerable. The main threat to this animal is humans who exploit them for their eggs.
Terrapin eggs are worth five times as much as chicken eggs and they’re taken from their nests to be sold as a source of food in many parts of Asia, which is having a huge impact on their population numbers due to its low egg productivity.
We’re the only zoo in the UK to care for this species and our team of herpetological experts aim to create a safety-net in case the turtles become extinct in the wild.
On top of this we’re also working in Sumatra, Indonesia, to help protect this critically endangered species and boost its population numbers.