Endangered turtles head back to the wild August 11
Information from Woodland Park Zoo
Western pond turtles help to balance local wetland ecosystems. At the start of every summer, the turtles are collected as eggs from wild nests and transported to Woodland Park Zoo where they are incubated for two to three months. After hatching, the turtles are expertly cared for by the animal keepers and given a head start on life where they can grow in safety; they are released nearly a year later. As part of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project, 37 juvenile turtles will be released back to their protected wetlands Friday, August 11.
The zoo’s animal keepers take excellent care of the precious turtles. Safely away from predators, the hatchlings bask under heat lamps and in pools throughout the winters which allows them to invest their time and energy in eating and growing rather than hibernating. By the time summer rolls around, they are bigger than wild turtles at that age and, more importantly, too big to fit in the mouths of predatory, invasive bullfrogs; they must be at least 2 ounces to be released.
Every August they are returned to protected sites in their native habitat and experience the next chapter of their lives: living in protected wetlands where they can submerge in vegetation, bask on logs, swim among mud banks, and dine on insects, amphibians and aquatic plants. Here, they are monitored by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.
Zoo-goers, especially turtle fans, can see where this year’s hatchlings will be head started in the zoo’s new Turtle Head Start Center in Cathy Herzig Basecamp Northwest in Living Northwest Trail.
Friday, August 11, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Recovery site located in Lakewood, Wash. For directions, contact the zoo’s PR staff at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 10. To protect the sensitive habitat, the release site is not publicized.