Tortoise Rescue (ATR) (www.tortoise.com), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring its
14th annual World Turtle Day™ on
May 23rd. The day was created as an observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises
and their disappearing habitats around the world. Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson,
founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles. Since 1990,
ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize
or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned
“We launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the
world’s oldest creatures,” said Tellem. “These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet
they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and
the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults
are disappearing from the wild thanks to the pet trade, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It
is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.” (See slide show here http://www.slideshare.net/tellem/where-have-all-the-turtles-gone.)
Tellem added, “We are thrilled to learn that organizations throughout the world
now are observing World Turtle Day, including those in Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.”
that biologists and other experts predict the disappearance of turtles and tortoises within the next 50 years.
She recommends that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next
Never buy a turtle or tortoise
from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
· Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
If a tortoise is crossing a busy
street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right
Write letters to legislators asking
them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to
endangered sea turtle deaths.
Report cruelty or illegal sales
of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
· Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches.
This is illegal to buy and sell them throughout the U.S.
“Our ultimate goal is to stop
the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world. Our first priority here in the U.S. is to
stop pet stores and reptile shows from selling hatchling tortoises and turtles without proper information for the buyer,”
says Thompson. “For example, many people buy sulcata tortoises as an impulse buy because they are
so adorable. The breeders and pet stores frequently do not tell the buyer that this tortoise can grow to
100 pounds or more and needs constant heat throughout the year since they do not hibernate.”
“We also need to educate people who are unfamiliar with their proper care about the real risk of contracting salmonella
from water turtles. Schools and county fairs are no place for turtles. Wash your hands thoroughly every
time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring turtles into homes where children are under the age of 12.”
For answers to questions and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online at www.tortoise.com or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @tortoiserescue; “Like” American Tortoise Rescue at www.Facebook.com/AmericanTortoiseRescue; and join World Turtle Day on www.Facebook.com/WorldTurtleDay.
Suggested Tweet: #DidYouKnow World Turtle Day is May
23rd? @TortoiseRescue #turtle #tortoise