Thanks to everyone for helping with our western pond turtle head start program. With your help, the Oregon Zoo will continue to help rebuild wild populations of this endangered species with the ultimate goal of self-sustaining turtle populations in the Pacific Northwest.
We've had a busy spring here in Portland with 65 young turtles under care here at the Zoo. Sometime in early August, these charismatic little guys will be released back into the wild in ponds near the Columbia River. After nearly a year of eating and growing inside our Conservation Center located in our Cascade Stream and Pond building, these turtles are nearing the size required for release.
These baby turtles arrived as hatchlings last September- each at an average weight of 7 grams. Now they tip the scales at more than 75 grams apiece! Four "holdover" turtles from 2008, now weighing up to 250 grams, will also be returned to the wild. All will be too big for bullfrogs and largemouth bass to eat and, hopefully, they'll spend the next 9 years growing to the age when they can breed and produce more turtles.
Before they are released, each young turtle will be micro-chipped with its unique identification number and have a harmless, small notch made in their carapace to help Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife field biologists to identify them without needing to catch them again. Release day is a special occasion. It's great to see them swim off, even if keepers are sometimes a little sad to see them go.
But then, in September, we'll receive another 60-70 baby turtles and the growing process will begin all over again. If you find yourself in Portland, Oregon and are interested in seeing our current population of young turtles, please stop by and say "hello!"
Thanks again to everyone for your help with this important conservation project. GlobalGivcing supporters DO make a difference and demonstrate progress on our stated mission: "to inspire our commuinity to create a better future for wildlife."