Critically endangered turtles hatch at the Houston Zoo

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Zoo has welcomed some new members to its family.

Four painted terrapins hatched at the zoo over the past week.

While births are special anyway, this one is especially significant because this is the first time the zoo has hatched painted terrapin turtles, one of the 25 most endangered species in the world.

Painted terrapins are a medium-sized to large turtle species found in the rivers in Southeast Asia.

While these baby turtles are just getting used to the world, the adults can already be seen at the Wortham World of Primates, in the water and on the shore, of the orangutan moat.

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The reptiles can only live in freshwater or brackish water with low salinity since they can't excrete salt from their bodies.

But the terrapins living at the zoo is significant for another reason.

When in the wild, painted terrapins' eggs and meat are hunted and sold for human consumption.

Pollution and habitat destruction are other threats.

The zoo says that it saves painted terrapins in the wild by supporting Malaysian conservation professionals in Sumatra. The professionals watch over and protect wild painted terrapins and their nests and restore and replant terrapin habitat.

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