Pond turtle species protection project

Zoo support since:2010
Conservation status on the Red List:vulnerable
Location of conservation project:Austria

The European pond turtle needs our help!
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The European pond turtle is Austria’s only native turtle species. Up until the 18th century this water turtle inhabited riverine landscapes throughout Europe. In earlier times, it was threatened because it landed on the dinner table during the fasting season. Today, the main problem is habitat destruction. Its populations continue to decline dramatically throughout Europe.


Austria is home to only one intact, naturally reproducing population counting about 1500 individuals. It inhabits the Alluvial National Park (Nationalpark Donau-Auen), where the turtles still find suitable waterbodies as a habitat along with the dry areas they need to deposit their eggs. The Alluvial National Park and Schönbrunn Zoo have joined forces in an important species protection project. This involves defending the nests against predators such as foxes, martins and badgers. The clutches are protected with metal cages directly after being laid. Later, the emerging hatchlings have little problem escaping through the cage bars.

Additional support is often required. The zoo also transports and incubates those clutches that are damaged or deposited in unfavorable spots, for example on visitor parking lots. In spring the hatchlings are returned to the Danube backwaters. The zoo also treats injured animals. Our visitors always have an opportunity to see pond turtles, which helps raise awareness for this endangered species.


The species protection project is the vehicle for studying and preserving this species.

This is how Schönbrunn Zoo is supporting the project:

  • financial support
  • medical treatment for injured pond turtles
  • incubating unfavorably located or damaged clutches

This is what our partners have to say:

Lilian Klebow, honorary pond turtle sponsor: "It fills me with great pleasure to pledge my support as honorary patroness for the last European pond turtles. My love for turtles goes back to 'Morla' from “The neverending story′“. The popular actress took on a one-year sponsorship for a turtle clutch when the European pond turtle was voted reptile of the year 2015.