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!
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Corporate & Foundation Relations Manager