Zoo and natural resource agency staff will be releasing 2012's last seven western pond turtles in the Columbia River Gorge on the morning of Wednesday, July 25th. As a generous contributor to the success of this conservation project, you are invited to witness their return to the wild.
The release will be held approximately seventy-five minutes from Portland and will occur rain or shine. If you are interested in attending, please send me an e-mail no later than noon on 7/24 that includes an e-mail address and telephone number where you can be reached and the number of your party. Once I hear from you, I'll respond with additional details and directions to the release site. A limited number of vehicles may be permitted to access the site.
For those who cannot attend, here' a link to last year's turtle release that includes a video.
Thanks again for your support!
Rick Horton, Oregon Zoo Foundation
This year our western pond turtle (WPT) Team has been very busy. Not only with raising turtles for release, but alsoattending informational meetings and workshops.
As usual, we sent Oregon Zoo representatives to the annual WPT Meeting in Olympia, WA this spring. At this meeting we get updates on all of the populations of WPTs in WA State from the biologists that watch over them. In addition, turtle staff from Seattle's Woodland Park Zoological Gardens (WPZG) and Oregon Zoo gave presentations on our programs.
Earlier this year, we invited the WPT Team from WPZG down to Portland to check out our lab set up and discuss methods of head starting. We spent hours discussing differences in our husbandry practices such as lighting, diets, and temperature gradients. Last month, we ventured up to Seattle (for the first time in our many years on the project) to get a look at their set up. We talked about our written protocols, release parameters and veterinary issues. All in all, both teams really enjoyed sharing ideas and seeing new ways to do similar things.
On May 9th and 14th, field biologists brought us 17 tiny turtles from the Columbia Gorge. These individuals include some of the smallest we have received in years at 3.5 grams (about the combined weight of a penny & paper clip; see attached photo!). After a natural winter hiding in the mud of their ponds, these animals remained almost at their original hatch weights. Unlike their counter parts who spent the winter in the warm, food-filled zoo conservation lab!
In another new development, 2012 has seen a record early release of some of our fastest growing individuals. On June 6th, twenty of our largest hatchlings from September 2011 (some weighing in at 200grams... that's about 80 pennies!) were returned to their original ponds in the Gorge! So our head count in the conservation lab is now 45 hatchlings. More will be released as usual in late July, followed by freshly-hatched little ones coming in to the lab in early September!
We wanted all of our "friends of turtles" to see a new project video produced by Oregon Zoo photographer Michael Durham and Zoo deputy conservation manager Dr. David Shepherdson. The video highlights the restoration of western pond turtle populations in the Columbia River Gorge and acknowledges the support of our project partners that include YOU and GlobalGiving.
We hope you enjoy it and will consider renewing your support of this important conservation success story in 2012!
Happy holidays from the Oregon Zoo! We could think of no better way to celebrate the end of 2011 than sharing the attached report that summarizes the results of our western pond turtle head start and release project.
Since we started working with this imperiled species (Actinemys marmorata) in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our colleagues at the Woodland Park Zoo back in 1999, zoo staff members have raised and released a total of 582 captive-reared turtles into their ancestral habitats throughout southern Washington State. And we have another 49 youngsters growing for release during 2012. Over the past 20-years, the wild populations of turtles has grown ten-fold - from 150 to more than 1,500.
For more information on this conservation success story in the making, visit: http://www.oregonzoo.org/Conservation/westernpondturtle.htm.
A copy of the State of Washington Governor Gregoire's official recognition of the 20th anniversary of this wildlife recovery effort also accompanies this report. We'll put this on our wall right next to awards for our successes on behalf of Asian elephants, Humboldt penguins, California condors, pygmy rabbiits and for contributions to the art and science of animal enrichment.
We couldn't have had this success without the fiancial support of donors like you! Thank you again for helping the Oregon Zoo to create a better future for wildlife and we look forward to your continued involvement.
2011 has been another busy and successful year for Oregon Zoo's western pond turtle program and we thank you for your support!
As previously reported to you in August, Zoo staff and field biologists were joined by several teens from our Zoo Animal Presenters (ZAP) Team who helped release of nine more turtles into ponds located in the Columbia River Gorge. ZAP Team members are recruited in partnership with Portland-area youth service agency partners. ZAP teens are hired and trained to teach younger children and families about animals and conservation issues.
According to project leader David Shepherdson:
"It is one thing to learn about conservation efforts, but it makes a much bigger impact when you actually see a zoo-reared turtle released back into the wilds of the Columbia Gorge,"
How big of an impact, you might ask? Just checkout the ZAP Team thank you note (see attached) they sent to Dr. Shepherdson. This is the kind of public feedback that convinces us that we are making progress towards the Oregon Zoo mission: inspiring our community to create a better future for wildlife.
Meanwhile, back at the zoo, turtle keeper Michelle reports:
"We now have 49 turtles here at the zoo - 20 were caught in May as they were coming out for the spring. These guys were actually hatched about the same time as the ones we released in August but since they were not in the OZ Turtle Lab's 'eternal summer' they were too small to be released with the other hatchlings and would have been eaten by the bullfrogs had they been left in the Gorge. So we now have those 20 plus another 29 that hatched in last month and were brought in to the zoo by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists . Hopefully all 49 will make weight and be released in August 2012! Right now they are enjoying the plentiful food and warm basking lights of our conservation lab."
We invite you to continue your support for the coming year. And there's no better time to help us than this Tuesday, October 18th. GlobalGiving will add 30% to any turtle project donation (up to $1,000) beginning at 9:01 PM (Pacific Coast Time). a total of $100,00 is available and it will go fast, so set your clocks and log on to our project page before 9 on Tuesday night to make a Bonus Day gift.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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Corporate & Foundation Relations Manager