World Turtle Day® is celebrated on May 23 to increase respect for and knowledge about one of the world’s oldest creatures.
Sadly, these gentle animals survived 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, habitat destruction, climate change, the cruel pet trade, and live exotic food markets domestically and internationally.
About 61% of turtles worldwide are threatened or already extinct. According to experts, turtles are the most threatened of the major groups of vertebrates, more so than birds, mammals, and fish. Tellem says this is why education is so important in every country globally so that turtles can be treasured, not smuggled, sold or eliminated. “Ideally, all turtles should live in the wild, but realistically this is not always possible. Too many are sold at pet stores, by street vendors, or used as prizes at carnivals and other events. Thankfully, there are many more rescues and sanctuaries now, as well as loving homes,” Tellem says. “These turtles can safely live out their long lives.”
Shellebrate and Protect Turtles and Tortoises
- 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.
- EMERGENCY CARE 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 around again.
- REPORT THE SALE of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches. This is illegal throughout the U.S.
- REPORT THE CRUELTY or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
- 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.
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