American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is sponsoring its 13th annual World Turtle Day 2013
on May 23rd. The day was created as an annual 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 turtles.
“World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and
knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million
years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of 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 says, “We are thrilled to learn that organizations throughout the world now are observing
World Turtle Day, including those in India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.” Tellem notes
that biologists and other experts predict the complete disappearance of these reptiles 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
more 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 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 illegal hatchling tortoises and turtles,” says Thompson. “We also need to educate
people who are unfamiliar with their proper care about the real risk of contracting salmonella from 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 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.