Riverbanks Zoo, SC DNR protect endangered tortoise

Riverbanks Zoo, SC DNR protect endangered tortoise

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is working with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to help safeguard the endangered gopher tortoise.

Riverbanks' herpetologists are raising nearly 30 gopher tortoise hatchlings that are part of a survivorship and movement study being conducted by SCDNR.

The tortoises being reared at Riverbanks arrived at the Zoo in early December after the eggs collected from Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve were hatched at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Lab.

"Our job at Riverbanks Zoo is to take baby tortoise and raise them up to a size, to about a year where they're large enough to put radio transmitters on and then the folks at South Carolina DNR and the Savannah River College will track this tortoise and finds out what happens to them when they get this big," Curator of Herpetology Scott Pfaff said. "So the question being there's not a lot of data about small tortoise helps to manage the population."

The animals will live at Riverbanks for the next year.

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