A new face at the Tennessee Aquarium - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

A new face at the Tennessee Aquarium

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The newly-hatched keeled box turtle at the Tennessee Aquarium. The newly-hatched keeled box turtle at the Tennessee Aquarium.

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) --  A tiny new face has Tennessee Aquarium herpetologists smiling with the Aquarium's first successful hatching of a keeled box turtle.

Sporting the latin name of Cuora mouhotii, the species is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). But unlike other endangered turtles reared at the Aquarium this year, this recent addition was rather slow to venture into the world.

"The spiny turtles just come right out," said senior herpetologist Bill Hughes. "But this turtle seemed content to open one end of the egg and look out at the world from inside the shell. It stayed there for two days before emerging."

Keeled box turtles get their name from the three raised ridges, or "keels" running the length of their shells. The edge of the shell has a number of sharp spikes near the tail. This species tends to lay fragile eggs, which are often crushed by the parents.

This species is native to China, India, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. Currently the U.S. population of keeled box turtles at accredited zoos and aquariums is less than 20 animals.

The Tennessee Aquarium has one of the largest turtle collections on public display with more than 500 individuals representing 75 species. The Aquarium now has six keeled box turtles on exhibit in the Turtle Gallery on level 2 of the River Journey building.

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