SEPTEMBER 7 2020 Julia Driscoll Manning River helmeted turtle hatchlings at the Aussie Ark/Australian Reptile Park insurance population facility. Photo: Aussie Ark The first Manning River helmeted turtles to hatch at the Australian Reptile Park's breeding facility for Aussie Ark's insurance population of the endangered species will soon be released into the the Manning River. The hatchlings released will be from a combination of two clutches, ensuring genetic diversity, with some remaining at the Reptile Park to further the breeding program. Twelve eggs were found in a nest on the banks of the Manning River by a landholder in January 2020. The landholder protected the nest and contacted Aussie Ark, aware that the nest was at risk of predation by foxes and feral cats, and possible flooding. RELATED: Endangered Manning River turtle eggs relocated to Australian Reptile Park for incubation Aussie Ark relocated the eggs to their breeding facility for the Manning River turtle insurance population at Australian Reptile Park for incubation. The eggs started hatching on March 5, with 10 hatchlings surviving. They have been kept and monitored at the Australian Reptile Park since, until they grew big enough to be released into the wild. The first clutch of eggs to arrive at the purpose-built facility at the Reptile Park was augmented by a further 20 eggs in February with a clutch laid by an adult turtle captured during an emergency rescue mission a few days before Christmas 2019 because of drought and bushfires. RELATED: Ten tiny turtle hatchlings provide hope for species "A lot of work has gone into getting us to this point and the release will be a big step in the direction of securing the survival of the species," Australian Reptile Park keeper and Manning River turtle enthusiast, Daniel Rumsey said. Help needed Prior to the release of the hatchlings into the Manning River, Aussie Ark, a not-for-profit conservation organisation, is seeking help from the public to continue working on saving the endangered species. A donation of $10 will provide a microchip to identify a turtle, and $25 helps feed a turtle for one month. Other donations can help provide monitoring, field officers and nest site protection. To donate, click here. The Aussie Ark Manning River turtle conservation breeding program is supported by Global Wildlife Conservation, the Turtle Conservancy, and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.