Lonely Planet Writer

Meet Satsuma, the tiny rare turtle who has just hatched in Chester Zoo

Animal-loving tourists have an extra reason to visit Chester Zoo in England, now that a Chinese three-striped box turtle, one of the world’s rarest and most critically endangered turtles, has hatched there.

A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo

Weighing in at just 18g, the tiny turtle has been named Satsuma after its tiny stature and orange and yellow colouring. It emerged after an 85-day incubation period. Chinese three-striped box turtles are not only found in China, but also in Vietnam, Hong Kong and areas of Laos and Myanmar. They are regarded by conservationists as one of the top 10 most threatened turtles on the planet.

A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo

According to Ben Baker, team manager of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at the zoo, the Chinese three-striped box turtle is one of the most beautiful turtles in the world because of its bright colour patterns.

A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo

“Chinese three-striped box turtles have suffered particularly badly because of their perceived medicinal properties, which has led to an enormous increase in demand for the animals and subsequently the prices they fetch on the black market,” he says. “On top of this, they are also highly sought after by the pet trade. Hopefully, our new little arrival can help us to shine a spotlight on the issues that the species is faced with, and bring some fresh hope in the fight to haul the species back from the brink.”

A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is a registered conservation and education charity that supports projects around the world. It is currently part of efforts to breed safely net populations of ten turtle species in the world that are most at risk of extinction. It also works in Sumatra and Philippines, where it is helping to protect nesting areas and habitats for critically endangered species.