Endangered reptile: Australia’s ‘punk turtle’ risks being last of the Mohicans

A Mary River Turtle looks on in Queensland, Australia, in this 2008 photo obtained from social media. Once a popular pet in Australia, the exact population of the Mary River Turtle, known to biologists as Elusor macrurus, is unknown. (Chris Van Wyk via Reuters)
Updated 13 April 2018
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Endangered reptile: Australia’s ‘punk turtle’ risks being last of the Mohicans

SYDNEY: Australia’s Mary River Turtle — with its green Mohican-style hair and ability to breathe through its genitals — is one of the world’s most distinctive reptiles.
It is also now officially among the most endangered.
The “punk turtle” was this week ranked 29th on the Zoological Society of London’s Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered list, triggering calls for better protection of the reptile found in a remote part of Australia’s east coast.
“You have to go back about 50 million years to find a closely related species,” said Marilyn Connell, a researcher at Australia’s Charles Darwin University.
“It would be a failure if we let this animal that walked alongside dinosaurs become extinct.”
Once a popular pet in Australia, the exact population of the Mary River Turtle, known to biologists as Elusor macrurus, is unknown, the Zoological Society of London said. Its distinctive hairdo is actually algae that grow on its head.
Academic research was hampered in 1974 when traders refused to reveal the habitat of what were then known as “Penny Turtles” after Australia outlawed the practice of keeping them as pets.
Nearly 20 years later, John Cann, a Sydney-based turtle enthusiast, rediscovered the turtle in the Mary River in Queensland. It was classified as a new species.
The turtle’s habitat is not fully protected, Cann said, and the introduction of new fish species to the waterway also threatened juvenile turtles.
“They survived in good numbers for millions of years,” Cann said. “Then along came the pigs and foxes, and on top of the native predators and people — that’s what has made them endangered.”


Tiger attacks Kansas zoo keeper after ‘error’ brought two together

This Nov. 2018 file photo shows Sanjiv, a Sumatran tiger at the Topeka Zoo in Topeka, Kansas. (AP)
Updated 21 April 2019
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Tiger attacks Kansas zoo keeper after ‘error’ brought two together

  • A tiger mauled a worker at England’s Hamerton Zoo Park in 2017, and last year a zoo worker in the Japanese city of Kagoshima was killed by a tiger, according to media reports

WASHINGTON: A rare Sumatran tiger attacked a worker at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas on Saturday, wounding the back of her head and neck before other staff members were able to coax the animal away with food, officials said.
The zoo keeper was alert and awake when she was rushed to a hospital, where she was listed in stable condition, city of Topeka spokeswoman Molly Hadfield said by phone.
The victim, the primary tiger keeper at the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center, was in the predator’s outdoor habitat when she was attacked, zoo director Brendan Wiley said at a news conference.
Somehow, the 7-year-old male tiger named Sanjiv entered the habitat, which is never supposed to happen when a person is present, Wiley said.
“There was some sort of error that occurred here,” Wiley said, adding that the incident was under investigation. “Some of our staff witnessed some things that you hope you go through a career without witnessing.”
Some visitors also saw Sanjiv injure the worker, who suffered lacerations and punctures to her head and neck, and also was wounded on her back and an arm, he said.
After about 10 minutes other staff members were able to lure the tiger into an indoor pen using its food ration, Wiley said.
The zoo was closed for 45 minutes after the attack and its six tigers, including Sanjiv and his four cubs, were kept in their pen. All the tigers except Sanjiv were later allowed back to the outdoor exhibit area.
Zoo officials did not plan any repercussions for Sanjiv.
“Sanjiv this morning did exactly what a tiger would when something comes into his territory,” Wiley said, adding there was “absolutely no consideration to euthanize Sanjiv.”
Tigers have killed several workers at zoos over the last few years.
In 2016, a male Malayan tiger killed a worker at the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society in Florida.
A tiger mauled a worker at England’s Hamerton Zoo Park in 2017, and last year a zoo worker in the Japanese city of Kagoshima was killed by a tiger, according to media reports.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 400 living in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.