American Tortoise Rescue To Celebrate World Turtle Day May 23, 2010

California Sanctuary Sponsors Day To Honor One of the World’s Oldest Creatures

Malibu, Calif. – March 5, 2010 – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) (, a nonprofit organization established 20 years ago for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring International World Turtle Day on May 23rd, 2010. The observance was created as an annual day to bring awareness of the protection of turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. It’s also designated as a day to celebrate these special creatures. Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles.

“World Turtle Day was launched 10 years ago to increase respect for and knowledge about one of the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years – longer than the dinosaurs, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the live food markets in the U.S. and elsewhere, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller and smaller turtles coming into the rescue which means that older adults are disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. This is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises throughout the world.”

Tellem and Thompson note that biologists predict the complete disappearance of these creatures within the next 50 years. They recommend that adults and children do a few important things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation.

• Never buy a turtle or tortoise as it increases demand from the wild. Adopt from a rescue. There are many listed on the ATR Web site under “adoptions.”
• Don’t take turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured. If they are crossing a busy street, pick them up and send them in the same direction they were going – if you try to make them go back, they will turn right around again.
• Write letters to legislators asking them to prevent their native turtles and tortoises from being shipped out of state and to preserve sensitive tortoise habitat.
• Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control department, Fish & Game or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
• Report any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches being sold or given away at pet stores, carnivals or Mercados. This practice is illegal everywhere in the U.S.
• Never keep turtles or tortoises at schools where children can contract salmonella from touching them or the water or substrate. The animal is miserable in a cage or tank. They need to be housed outside in a proper habitat or pond.

“Illegal street vendors at the beach, at downtown Mercados and at Asian live food markets throughout the U.S. are a major problem for turtles, especially the ‘red eared slider’ water turtles. These have an extremely high mortality rate due to ignorance about their care,” Tellem says.

ATR currently houses about 100 injured, abandoned and lost turtles and tortoises. These are too ill or abused for adoption. Since 1990, ATR has placed more than 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. The founders no longer do adoption, but the Web site is loaded with referrals for people who want to place or adopt turtles.

“We have turned our attention solely to education. Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world,” says Thompson. “Turtles and tortoises are often an impulse buy, and people who are unfamiliar with their proper care run a real risk of contracting salmonella or causing deformities in the tortoises themselves. We are here to help prevent that.”

For answers to questions and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online at or send an e-mail to, on twitter @tortoiserescue and become a fan on Facebook at American Tortoise Rescue.