Toronto Zoo has announced the successful hatching of a baby Madagascar spider tortoise. This is the first hatching of a Madagascar spider tortoise at the Toronto Zoo.
The Toronto Zoo started working with Madagascar spider tortoises in 2007 and this is the first successful reproduction.
Madagascar spider tortoise egg was laid Friday, October 4, 2019 and did go through a diapause, a period of “suspended animation” before developing and successfully hatching on Saturday, May 2, 2020.
After the egg was discovered by Toronto Zoo Keepers, it was set up in a specialized incubation media (a mix of sterile vermiculite and water which maintains moisture availability to the embryo and allows for good gas exchange) and incubated at 28-30C for several weeks and then cooled to 20C for approximately one month. It was then incubated at 28-30C for the remaining 3-4 months of the incubation period.
The Madagascar spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) is a small tortoise endemic to southwestern Madagascar and is characterized by the beautiful web-like patterns of yellow and black lines radiating across its upper shell or carapace.
The Madagascar spider tortoise is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Populations in the wild are declining due to habitat alteration and collection for the pet trade and food trade.
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The world’s third-largest zoo, the Toronto Zoo said that it relies on parking and admission fees to feed its 5,000 animals at a cost of roughly $1 million per year. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the closure of the Toronto Zoo on March 14th, has brought an immediate and critical initiative to the forefront for the Wildlife Conservancy.
To make up for lost revenue, the Toronto Zoo is fundraising with the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy, which was established last year and typically focuses its efforts on protecting endangered species. The Wildlife Conservancy has launched theZoo Food for Life campaign to raise funds to offset these lost revenues.