Every day, people pour past the front gates of the Zoo to witness our enchanting animals. But this month, some of the most fascinating events took place behind the scenes in our herpetology department.
We’re proudly welcoming two new hatchlings that will be much-needed ambassadors for their species: a satanic leaf-tailed gecko and a Forsten’s tortoise.
If you’ve visited our Herpetarium, you may have walked right past the leaf geckos, thinking the exhibit was empty. These reptiles are masters in camouflage and often go unnoticed by an unsuspecting eye. They dwell in the lush forests of Madagascar, where their leaf-like design provides the perfect cover to hide them from predators. Satanic leaf-tailed geckos are facing a significant decline in the wild as heavy logging wreaks havoc on their habitat. Their incredible design also makes them a much-wanted pet, and they’re often captured and sold illegally.
The Dallas Zoo is one of only two U.S. institutions to successfully reproduce satanic leaf-tailed geckos. Since this gecko can only be found in a remote region, the select institutions that are lucky enough to host the leafy lizard have a large responsibility to reproduce and study the animal. This little lizard makes baby No. 8 for the Zoo and our herpetologists are beaming with joy at the sight of another successful hatching.
Also, for the first time, the Dallas Zoo is welcoming a baby Forsten’s tortoise to our family, a major breeding success. Found only on the single island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, the Forsten’s tortoise is commonly hunted both for meat and pet trade industries, which has left this species in desperate need of help.
“Our reptile team is very excited to be working with these highly threatened animals and we’re proud of the fact that we’re making a significant contribution to the success of these species in zoological care,” said Ruston Hartdegen, Dallas Zoo’s curator of herpetology.
The arrival of these reptile hatchlings shows that with a little help from passionate people willing to fight for their survival, we can make a difference in their well-deserved comeback.