Behler Chelonian Center Update: July & August 2012

Ploughshare Tortoise Ultrasound

It is now midsummer at the Behler Chelonian Center. At the same time, Madagascar is experiencing its winter, which for Ploughshare Tortoises means dry conditions and cool nights. To find out how this difference could be affecting our breeding females, the team at the BCC brought in local ultrasonographer, Sarah Young, DVM, to image the ovaries in an effort to determine their current reproductive status. The ovaries of the younger female do have some activity, including several relatively small follicles as seen in the sonograph. The ovaries of the older female, a proven breeder, are inactive as would be expected this time of year in Madagascar.

Dr. Gerald Kuchling

Renowned chelonian reproductive biologist Dr. Gerald Kuchling and his wife Guundie visited the BCC to follow up on several research projects involving endoscopic sexing. This time, Dr. Kuchling is particularly interested in Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) and Burmese Star Tortoises (Geochelone platynota). He is examining tortoises that hatched after incubation under controlled conditions directed toward specific sex outcomes. Look for this data to be published and presented in the near future. While at the BCC, Dr. Kuchling will also be collaborating on additional research, consulting on Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) reproduction, and discussing his experience with reintroduction programs.

New Enclosure for Galapagos Tortoises

The Behler Chelonian Center is preparing for a herd of Galapagos Giant Tortoises. Within a few months a brand new half-acre enclosure complete with large shade trees, a soaking pool for daytime cooling, and a spacious hillside cave in which to keep warm at night will be complete.

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