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71 Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis) have just arrived at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi after a long journey from Europe. The rare endemic turtles have been bred in Europe, and the Rotterdam and Münster zoos have now partnered with the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park to bring the turtles home to Vietnam.
Now found only in a few select provinces of central Vietnam, wild populations of these turtles have disappeared rapidly since the late 1980s, mainly as a result of intense hunting, smuggling and illegal wildlife trade to meet demand from consumers in Vietnam and China.
The turtles are now waiting to be brought to their new home at the TCC in Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh province. This is the first time such a large group of rare turtles from a European breeding program has been returned to Vietnam.
Next Monday, Cuc Phuong National Park will host government officials and members of the media to mark this milestone in the continuing effort to conserve and protect the Mauremys annamensis species. We can’t wait to greet the animals there, and will keep you updated as this historic event unfolds!