Founded by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson in 1990, American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is a wonderful nonprofit organization that has been sponsoring World Turtle Day for twelve years to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. To coincide with this special day, ATR will have their first fundraiser on May 20th at The Shack in Santa Monica, California. According to co-founder Susan Tellem, attendees can expect “refreshments, door prizes, and just a whole lot of turtle talk!”
World Turtle Day is truly a day worth commemorating. Turtles have been around for over 200 million years, yet sadly turtles and tortoises are now at a much higher risk of extinction than many other vertebrates. According to a recent report by the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, of the 263 species of freshwater and terrestrial turtles, 117 species are considered threatened, 73 are either endangered or critically endangered, and 1 is extinct, while 71% of all tortoise species are either gone or almost gone.
American Tortoise Rescue’s Tellem and Thompson note that experts predict the complete disappearance of one of the world’s oldest creatures within the next 50 years. They’ve kindly offered us a few small things that we can do to help save turtles and tortoises for generations to come:
- 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 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.
- Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitats preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent offshore oil 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.
If you can’t attend the fundraiser on May 20th in Santa Monica, please consider sending them a contribution at http://www.tortoise.com/turtle_donations.html.
For more information, please visit American Tortoise Rescue at www.tortoise.com. You can also find them on Twitter: @tortoiserescue and Facebook, www.Facebook.com/AmericanTortoiseRescue and www.Facebook.com/WorldTurtleDay.
Tortoise image courtesy of Flickr.