California Sanctuary Sponsors Day to Honor
One of the World’s Oldest Creatures
Malibu, Calif. – May 23, 2011 – American Tortoise Rescue, a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring its 11th annual World Turtle Day on May 23rd. Featured in Chase’s Book of Annual Events, 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 and the cruel pet trade,” said Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.” She added that many sea turtles lost their lives in 2010 thanks to BP’s uncontrolled oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. “It’s a tragic example of putting profits before preserving our environment,” Tellem said.
This is the first year that ATR is working with sponsors to bring the message of saving turtles and tortoises to larger audiences. The first sponsors to sign on are Cloud B, a manufacturer that helps children sleep better with products like its world class “Twilight Turtle,” and online food social network Bakespace.com, which held its first Cupcake Camp Los Angeles fundraiser last November to benefit ATR and other nonprofits. ATR and its sponsors will cross promote the message of saving turtles and Tortoises on websites, Facebook and Twitter.
“We are very grateful to have the help and support of such great sponsors and look forward to adding additional supporters from around the world,” said Tellem. “World Turtle Day has gained international recognition after starting as a homegrown event just 11 years ago. Everyone loves turtles and tortoises!”
Tellem and Thompson note that experts predict the complete disappearance of one of the world’s oldest creatures within the next 50 years. They recommend that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation:
• 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 street or 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 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 everywhere in the U.S.
“Outlaw vendors at downtown Mercados and live food markets throughout the U.S. are a major problem for turtles, especially the ‘red eared slider’ water turtle. These poor creatures have an almost 100 percent mortality rate due to ignorance about their care,” Tellem said. She added that tiny turtles need to be kept in warm water, and must eat under water to survive.
“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,” said 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 live turtles into homes where children are under the age of 12.”
For answers to questions and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online ; on Twitter @tortoiserescue; “Like” American Tortoise Rescue on Facebook and join World Turtle Day on Facebook at World Turtle Day