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American Tortoise Rescue Celebrates World Turtle Day 2016 on May 23rd

All Volunteer Organization Celebrates 26 Years of Rescuing and Rehoming

Malibu, CA – February 1, 2016 – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is celebrating its 16th annual World Turtle Day® on May 23rd. The day was created by ATR as an observance to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Since 1990, Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, the founders of ATR, have rescued and rehomed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles to caring homes. ATR also assists law enforcement when undersized or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.

“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, so the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.” (See slide show here.)

Tellem added, “We are thrilled to learn that organizations and individuals throughout the world now are observing World Turtle Day, including those in Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.”

Tellem notes 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 save turtles and tortoises for future generations:

  • 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 highway, 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 around again.
  • 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 use of tiny turtles as prizes at carnivals and other events. It’s illegal.
  • Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches. It 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 ask pet stores and reptile shows to stop the sale of 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 when they are tiny. The breeders and pet stores frequently do not tell the buyers that this tortoise can grow to 100 pounds or more and needs constant heat throughout the year since they do not hibernate.” He added, “We also need to educate people and schools about the real risk of contracting salmonella from water turtles. Wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring turtles into schools or 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 info@tortoise.com; on Twitter @tortoiserescue and @worldturtleday; like American Tortoise Rescue and World Turtle Day on Facebook.

Media Contact:
Susan Tellem | info@tortoise.com | 310-613-3504

Photos available. Please note World Turtle Day® is trademarked – please use registered

Suggested Tweet: #WorldTurtleDay is May 23. You can learn to save turtles and tortoises here http://bit.ly/1OpwElq.

 

30745 PCH, #243, Malibu, CA 90265 | www.tortoise.com | Nonprofit ID 93-1219374