Painted Terrapin Project

The painted terrapin is one of the largest living fresh water turtle species and, since 1996, has been classed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered.

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. It is believed that small population in District of Aceh Tamiang is the last stronghold for this species in Indonesia.

Alongside the Satucita Foundation, we are working to protect the species at three nesting beaches in this area. The terrapin is currently at an extreme risk of extinction, which is a direct result of extensive poaching for their eggs from humans and predators, as well as the deteriorating environments surrounding rivers.

Reinforcing the wild population is the key aim of this project. Monitoring of the nesting beaches is vital to secure and protect eggs, and eggs are incubated in-situ on nesting beaches.  After hatching the terrapins are released and monitored.  A key part of this project is the collaboration with local community groups - many of these communities are ex-collectors of eggs who are now trained to conduct nesting patrols and collect vital ecological data on the animals.

The information being gathered is giving us a better understanding of how the turtles live and their biology. In addition, we are the only zoo in the UK to hold the species as safety net population. Projects such as this are vital in securing the future survival of the species. 

Project partners


Project team

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Key Facts

The species gets its name from the change in colouration of males during breeding season
The heads of the males turn white with a strip of red on the top, between their eyes
Females lay an average of 10-12 eggs per nest

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