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SAAMBR Contributes to Turtle and Tortoise Study Challenging Evolutionary Theories of Aging

Even though humans live longer lives now than when compared to their historical counterparts,

we cannot escape the inevitability of aging. Turtles however may buck this trend by following a
different pattern of aging compared to humans and other species.
In a new study published in the journal Science, researchers used data contributed by
SAAMBR’s uShaka Sea World division in collaboration with other zoos and aquariums to
examine 52 species of turtles and tortoises. The data recorded in the Species360 Zoological
Information Management System (ZIMS) enabled researchers to discover that, unlike humans
and other species, turtles and tortoises defy common evolutionary theories and may reduce the
rate of aging in response to improvements in environmental conditions.
“We find that some of these species can reduce their rate of aging in response to the improved
living conditions found in zoos and aquariums, compared to the wild,” said study co-author,
Prof. Dalia Conde, Species360 Director of Science, Head of the Species360 Conservation Science
Alliance. “In addition, modern zoological organizations play an important role in conservation,
education and research, and this study shows the immense value of zoos and aquariums
keeping records for the advancement of science”.
Dr. Francois Lampen, veterinarian at uShaka Sea World said that the biometrical data collected
by our animal care teams reflect the improved nutrition and general husbandry of the animals
under their care, and it gives them valuable information on how to continuously optimise
health management.
“Contributing to an international database of information on animals that we work with on a
daily basis increases the depth of knowledge on these species tremendously and it has now
become a shared resource on 6 continents” added Maryke Musson, Executive Manager uShaka
Sea World