Tortoises make a comeback

Its tiny, upturned mouth is permanently fixed in a cheeky grin, but yesterday this Western Swamp Tortoise had reason to smile.

Barely 10cm long, the juvenile "swampy" was one of 30 captive-bred tortoises raised at Perth Zoo and released in Bullsbrook.

Endemic to WA, the Western Swamp Tortoise is believed to be Australia's rarest reptile and the world's rarest tortoise.

The World Conservation Union lists the tortoise as critically endangered, meaning there were thought to be fewer than 50 adults in the wild when the species was last assessed.

But Perth Zoo's breeding program reached a milestone yesterday with the release of the 500th captive-bred juvenile.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said it was a "conservation landmark" for a species which had fought its way back from the brink of extinction.

The West Australian

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