Rare tortoises arrive in Atlanta and Knoxville

ATLANTA (AP) -- Zoos in Atlanta and Knoxville are taking in some endangered tortoises in hopes of helping preserve the rare species.

A group of eight ploughshare tortoises recently arrived with four each going to Zoo Atlanta and Knoxville Zoo. They will be on public view later this spring in Knoxville.

Ploughshare tortoises are native only to Madagascar and are widely considered the world's most endangered tortoise species. There may be as few as 400 left.

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust started a concentrated recovery program in 1986, but the population continues to struggle because of illegal black market sales and habitat destruction.

The zoos in Atlanta and Knoxville have been chosen to house and reproduce a new U.S.-based population of ploughshare tortoises. Both zoos have prior experience breeding tortoises.

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