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Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009
Bristol Zoo Garden's reptile house re-opens

One of the 17 rhinoceros iguanas
It is the first time rhinoceros iguanas have been bred at the zoo

Critically endangered species of tortoise and turtle will be among the new arrivals when Bristol Zoo's Reptile House re-opens.

Some 17 rhinoceros iguanas, 13 amethystine pythons and two green tree monitors were also born behind the scenes while the house was closed for a new heating system to be installed.

The enclosure re-opened last weekend after extensive improvements which will give keepers better control over temperatures inside.

Tim Skelton, the zoo's curator of reptiles and amphibians, said: "It has been a busy few months for us in the Reptile House and we are thrilled with all these newcomers.

"We are particularly pleased to have received six critically endangered Annam leaf turtles from Chester Zoo.

"They are still very tiny - a little bigger than a 50p coin - so will not be ready to breed for a few years, but their arrival is a great investment in the future of this highly vulnerable species."

Exact information about the tortoises, such as their age, is not known - they could be anywhere between five and 50-years-old.

Mr Skelton said the house would also be the new home of six critically endangered Egyptian tortoises which will be included in a new studbook, an animal breeding record keeping system.

"They were among over 100 tortoises confiscated by customs and excise after being caught in Libya, most likely destined for the pet trade," he said.

"The hatching of 17 rhinoceros iguanas is also excellent as it is the first time we have bred this species at Bristol Zoo and they are a classified as a vulnerable species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List."

He added: "The new heating system means we can expect more successful breeding of endangered species in the coming months and years."

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