Buy Toys Not Turtles

Buy Turtles Not Toys

note: TGPR Partner Susan Tellem is also Co-Founder of American Tortoise Rescue, official sponsor of World Turtle Day.

An Open Letter to Parents Regarding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie

Dear Parents:

We’re asking you to save a turtle’s life and perhaps even your child’s. What can you do to help? Buy Ninja action figures and toys instead of live turtles.

This month, your children will be enjoying the extremely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. It’s fun and great entertainment.

We are writing to ask for your help. Since the first movie was released in 1990, hundreds of thousands of live turtles, mostly water turtles called red eared sliders, were purchased for between $10 and $25 after each ninja movie was released. The result? Many, if not most, were dumped and even deliberately killed or flushed down the toilet.

Children do not realize that real turtles do not fly, perform stunts or do any of the exciting moves fictional movie turtles do. Parents, trying to please their children, purchase live turtles which end up languishing in tanks. Most of these turtles are taken out of the wild and sold through pet stores, breeders, swap meets, flea markets and mercados for profit. Later, the turtles are dumped illegally into rivers and lakes as well as dumpsters, flushed down toilets or relinquished to shelters and overcrowded rescues.  It’s estimated that 90 percent die.

Turtles carry salmonella which can make a child, the elderly and those who are immune suppressed very, very sick and can even kill them. That’s why turtles less than four inches were banned from sale in the U.S. in 1974 and still are…tiny turtles easily fit into a child’s mouth and children don’t wash their hands after touching turtles. It’s an ugly problem causing nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and even death. We do not recommend live turtles or tortoises for children under 13 because of salmonella exposure.

Turtles have been around for 200 million years and outlived the dinosaur.  Is this the way we want to treat our precious disappearing wildlife? Save a turtle’s life, and perhaps even your child’s.

Thank you.

Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, Co-Founders
American Tortoise Rescue