golden tortoise

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Shared with permission from a friend who took these images.

These are detail shots of Ichitomi’s beautiful erikae ensemble. Her kimono features a rare and gorgeous peacock motif with added peonies (on the opposite side) and pine trees and her juban has gold and silver pine needles to match. The hanao on her senryō geta are a very chic silver and pink, which contrasts well well the greens and blues on her kimono. Her golden obi features kikkō (tortoise shell) and hanabishi (flower diamonds) patterns that are meant to mimic the shell of a tortoise, an animal that is associated with long life and endurance.

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The Pollera and Somberero Pintado: Symbols of Panamanian Culture

La Pollera

Refers to the traditional costume of Panama worn by women consisting of a skirt and a blouse. Its origins are that of Spanish clothing worn by peasant women in the seventeenth century. The most iconic pollera is that of the pollera de gala; its development began when upper-class Spanish women started settling in the Americas. Since their lavish clothing was unsuitable for the tropical climate, they would appropriate the dress of their [Spanish] servants. However to make them appear more luxurious they would decorate the garments with lavish embroidery and lace. This type of pollera was eventually adopted to the white criollo and mestizo population; and to this day is seen as a national symbol of Panama. Traditionally a woman owns two polleras in her life; one during childhood and the other when she becomes an adult. Typically polleras de gala are handmade of white linen and embroidered with colorful patterns such as flowers and fruit. However, there are many different variations of polleras outside of the pollera de gala, and differences base on region. Another common type of the pollera is that of the pollera congo, with its origins among the Afro-Colonial population of Colón. The most common style of the pollera congo is a colorful patchwork one made by the use old fabrics, and it reflects the polleras worn by African women during the days of slavery. A woman who wears a pollera is referred to as an empollerada.

Polleras are usually accompanied by jewelry and accessories. The most common ones are the peinetas and tembleques. Peinetas are golden tortoise-shaped combs that surround the head like a halo, while tembleques are ornaments made of wire, pearls, or crystals; attached to the peinetas. These two accessories are often passed down by families as heirlooms.

El Sombrero Pintado

Is a traditional Panamanian hat most commonly worn by men, but occasionally by women as well. Recognized by its distinctive pattern of white and black rings, its origins are in the province of Coclé, however these days its seen as a national icon similar to pollera de gala. It is handwoven using the fibers of plants bleached in the sun; the rings that are black are made by using an Indigenous method of boiling fibers with chisná bush leafs, which cause a natural black dye. The cost of a hat is based on the number of rings, and hats with more than twenty rings can take up to a month to make. 

New Hatchlings!

The Turtle Conservancy has had some exciting new hatchlings during the month of October!


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We hatched five more Critically Endangered Golden Coin Turtles (Cuora trifasciata) as part of our ongoing participation in the reintroduction program run by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong and the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. This lovable turtle is prized in “traditional” Chinese medicine for its purported health benefits; recently it was proclaimed by turtle farmers to provide a cure for cancer. Local farmers are slowly becoming poachers of this species because for the price of one turtle, they can buy a house!

The Turtle Conservancy joined the Golden Coin Turtle conservation effort in January of 2013 when we executed the first-ever repatriation of captive-born turtles for a reintroduction program. Today we have now produced 26 offspring of this rare species at our conservation breeding center and are continuing to repatriate them for eventual reintroduction into a highly protected area of their natural habitat in Hong Kong.


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We hatched one more Endangered Forsten’s Tortoise (Indotestudo forstenii). We know very little about the wild populations of this incredible tortoise. It is endemic to Sulawesi, Indonesia, where it is restricted to the northern arm of the island and is collected for local consumption and the pet trade. The Turtle Conservancy traveled to Indonesia to study this species in June of 2012. The TC’s Christine Light is the North American studbook keeper for this species, and we are looking into future fieldwork opportunities to better understand this tortoise.


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We hatched one Critically Endangered Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). This striking tortoise is endemic to Madagascar and is found on the southern tip of the island. Heavy collection for local consumption and the pet trade is driving this tortoise to the brink of extinction.


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We hatched one Critically Endangered Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri). The carapace of this remarkable species is flattened, hence its name. It is commonly found squeezed in rock crevices in Tanzania and Kenya. Collection for the pet trade is destroying wild populations of this tortoise.

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Meeting Samwise!, Part 7
(Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6)

Samwise’s visit last month was full of exciting adventures! After the giant ducky plushie, we walked by a big golden lion. I went right up to that big golden lion and made friends! Much to the consternation of everyone who walked by, I checked out the views from the lion’s nose, from the top of his head, and from inside his mouth. I even took a few short naps on the big golden lion! Including in his mouth, NBD.