Watch Western Pond Turtles Being Prepared For Release with Woodland Park Zoo

You are invited Wednesday, July 28 to watch more than 35 western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) being prepared for release to the wild. The juvenile turtles will be released in August to a protected site in the state.

In “shellebration” of the 30th anniversary of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project, the public—for the first time ever—is invited to watch Woodland Park Zoo animal management staff and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists prepare the turtles, including weighing, measuring and notching shells for identification. This process is part of the recovery project to help prepare the turtles for the next chapter of their lives—living in protected wetlands where they can submerge in vegetation, bask on logs, swim among mud banks, and dine on insects, amphibians and aquatic plants.

Under the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project, the turtles were collected from the wild as eggs and given a head start on life under the care of Woodland Park Zoo; the head start improves their chance of survival in the wild.

Unlike turtles in the wild, the head start turtles are fed at the zoo throughout the winter; by summer they are nearly as big as 3-year-old turtles that grew up in the wild. Once the turtles reach about 2 ounces—a suitable size to escape the mouths of non-native predatory bullfrogs—they are returned to protected sites in their natural range and monitored by biologists.

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