Oregon Zoo Foundation

The mission of the Oregon Zoo Foundation is to foster community pride and involvement in the Oregon Zoo and to secure financial support for zoo conservation, education and animal welfare programs. These programs advance the zoo's mission to inspire the community to respect animals and to take action on behalf of the natural world by creating engaging experiences and advancing the highest level of animal welfare, environmental literacy and conservation science.
May 19, 2016

Western Pond Turtles Conservation Update

Western Pond Turtle Release
Western Pond Turtle Release

More than 20 western pond turtles returned to their home ponds in the Columbia River Gorge this morning — the latest release in a 25-year collaboration aimed at helping this yellow-speckled local reptile survive.

For 14 of these turtles, reared at the Oregon Zoo, an eight-month stretch of warm days and nights has just drawn to an end. Since last September, the turtles basked in the warmth and light of a simulated summer in the zoo’s conservation lab, growing large enough to have a fighting chance in the wild.

But this year, there were nine additional turtles — and some new helping hands — at the release site.

In addition to participating in the head-start program, the zoo has been treating adult turtles from the Gorge affected by a severe shell disease. Conservation technicians from Larch Corrections Center support that veterinary work, serving as an infirmary for the recovering reptiles, and providing daily care, observation and minor treatments.

Nine of these turtles were deemed fit for return to the Gorge, and for the first time, caregivers from Larch were able to participate in the release.

“We have a running relationship with Larch, but this is the first time they have been part of the final step of turtle recovery,” according to Dr. David Shepherdson, Oregon Zoo deputy conservation director.

Larch, a minimum-security prison in Vancouver, Wash., with the motto “Doing Good While Doing Time,” is part of the Sustainability in Prisons Project — a partnership between the Washington Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College. Larch also grows narrow-leaf plantain — a food source for the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies raised at the Oregon Zoo.

“Sustainability in Prisons brings together people who haven’t felt included in the conservation movement before,” said Joslyn Trivett, the project’s national network manager. “It makes conservation the business of a wider group.”

Western pond turtle work is a particularly noble cause. The species — one of only two native turtles in the Pacific Northwest — has lost significant ground over the past two decades. Once common from Mexico all the way up to Vancouver, B.C. (where it’s now extinct), these turtles are considered endangered in Washington and declining in Oregon and California.

In one study, scientists estimated that 95 percent of the head-started turtles released back to sites in the Columbia Gorge survive annually, and today nearly a thousand of the turtles range across six ponds in the Columbia Gorge.

Thank you for your support of this fight against extinction. 

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Jan 19, 2016

Western Pond Turtles Conservation Update

Students in the conservation lab
Students in the conservation lab

Thank you for your support of western pond turtle conservation! The turtle hatchlings are settled in for the winter at to the Oregon Zoo’s Conservation Lab. We now have the 14 hatchlings who we have divided into three pools. Four smaller individuals are together so that their progress may receive extra monitoring. They are slower growers but eventually should catch up to their cohorts. The other ten have been split into two groups in order to give each of them plenty of room and less competition for food. All ten are now over 100 grams in weight! We are hopeful that all fourteen of these turtles will be ready for release this summer.

Over the past few months the turtles have started to use the new floating basking mats and love their new, even broader spectrum light fixtures and bulbs. Diet changes should also be coming on line this spring to optimize nutritional intake! 

If you are in the area, please stop by and see our little ones basking in the warm temps and broad spectrum 'sun light' of the Oregon Zoo Conservation Lab! We’re in the Great Northwest trail.

Again, many thanks for your vital support.

Aug 27, 2015

Thank you for supporing the Western Pond Turtles

As we head into western turtle release season there are 26 turtle hatchlings residing in the Oregon Zoo Conservation Lab. These little guys all hatched in the wild: eleven came directly to us after hatching in the fall of 2014 and the rest spent the winter in the wild and were brought in during the spring of 2015.

Thanks to your support through Global Giving this year we installed brand new, wide spectrum light fixtures in the lab. Meeting with WDFW biologists and staff from Woodland Park Zoo we have some big changes to our protocols for the upcoming season!! We look forward to utilizing cutting edge intelligence to offer our hatchlings the very best care available! This will mean new improved (and even more comfy) 'basking mats' in each tub as well as an outdoor area where our turtles will be able to bask in the sun's rays on a regular basis (as temperatures dictate). In addition we are working closely Woodland Park Zoo and our staff nutritionist to optimize their daily diets! Big Changes in an ever evolving program!  

Thank you for supporting the western pond turtles!

 

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