The Western Australian Government has expanded breeding efforts at Perth Zoo for Australia’s most endangered reptile, the Western Swamp Tortoise.

The new facility funded by the State Government, and using in-kind contributions from Boral Midland Brick, replaces smaller, older facilities and will allow the zoo to care for up to 250 Western Swamp Tortoises at once.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said this was a significant investment to safeguard one of Australia’s unique reptiles.

“This is an exciting step forward in the recovery of the Western Swamp Tortoise because the new facility includes four big quarantine ponds which will enable the zoo to care for sick or injured tortoises that need to be rescued from the wild,” Mr Jacob said.

“Importantly, the new facility incorporates some innovative environmental initiatives. The tortoises are big water users and its one of the reasons they are struggling in our warmer, drier climate.

“On average the zoo’s 49 tortoise ponds need 30,000 to 50,000 litres of fresh, clean water a day. This new facility has been designed so the water can be re-used across other parts of the zoo, such as on the gardens or even to flush the visitor toilets.”

Since 1989, Perth Zoo has bred more than 800 Western Swamp Tortoises and 668 have been released by the Department of Parks and Wildlife to boost numbers in the wild.

This species, thought to be extinct and only rediscovered in 1953, is being impacted by urbanisation, fox predation and declining rainfall.

“The intensive efforts of Perth Zoo and the Department of Parks and Wildlife have bought the species back from the brink of extinction and this new facility will enable us to build a healthy future for them,” the Minister said.

Fact File
  • The State Government has provided $1.066 million for the facility over four years
  • The breeding program has boosted original populations of the tortoise at Ellen Brook Nature Reserve and Twin Swamps Nature Reserve
  • New populations of the tortoise have been established at Moore River Nature Reserve and Mogumber Nature Reserve