El Paso Zoo takes part in tortoise conservation

EL PASO, TEXAS - El Paso Zoo Veterinarians Dr. Victoria Milne and Dr. Misty Garcia, along with local reptile veterinarians, will perform endoscopies on dozens of bolson tortoises that are part of the Turner Endangered Species Fund's bolson tortoise conservation plan.
 
"We're excited to be a part of this project," said El Paso Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne. "The Turner Endangered Species Fund's ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining population of bolson tortoises in New Mexico, and this procedure is critical in terms of breeding and conservation."
 
The sex of bolson tortoises is dependent on the temperature at which their eggs are incubated. These tortoises can live up to 100 years, and it may take 10-15 years before they are mature enough to determine whether they are male or female by a physical exam.

In order to help the breeding program avoid a 10-year delay, the Zoo medical team will use an endoscope through a small incision in the young tortoises to look at the gonads and determine the sex of the tortoises.

The Turner Endangered Species Fund will collect the data and compare it to the temperature at which they were incubated. This is integral to understanding what temperature will yield a particular sex of bolson tortoise, which is necessary in creating and maintaining a self-sustaining bolson tortoise population.
 
"This highlights one of the most important things we want people to know about the El Paso Zoo," said El Paso Zoo Director Steve Marshall. "The Zoo is actively saving wildlife from extinction. The Turner Endangered Species Fund is working to create this self-sustaining population of bolson tortoises, and we are eager to work together to make sure this species continues."
 


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