Baby Turtles Released in the Future Rouge National Urban Park
The Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and Earth Rangers are working together to help recover a threatened species
TORONTO, JUNE 30, 2014 - Today the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and Earth Rangers, reintroduced 10 baby Blanding's turtles - a provincially and nationally threatened species - to a pond in the future Rouge National Urban Park.
The long-lived species, with a lifespan of up to 80 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley since time immemorial, though its future remains uncertain with only six Blanding’s turtles still living in the park’s wetlands.
“This is the first reintroduction of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and marks a significant step in 15 years of turtle monitoring and research in the Rouge Valley,” said Bob Johnson, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Toronto Zoo. “Blanding’s turtles are amazing creatures and in some ways are a poster child for endangered species - by helping them, we also help countless other wetland animals and plants, so this is a good news story. The Toronto Zoo is proud to be part of this important partnership to save and protect Blanding’s turtles.”
The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source population in southern Ontario in 2012 and have been raised in captivity at the Toronto Zoo over the last two years. Parks Canada, the TRCA and the Toronto Zoo believe that captive rearing and reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to the animal’s survival in the future Rouge National Urban Park.
“Healthy turtles mean healthy wetlands and Blanding’s turtles can be indicators of good wetland health in the park,” added Johnson. “It’s exciting to collaborate with our partners and it’s particularly convenient to have a national protected area across the street from us at the zoo.”
The public can help protect the turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or their habitat. The location of the pond housing the reintroduced turtles will not be disclosed at this time to help minimize disturbances and give the animals the best chance of surviving.
The Toronto Zoo and Rouge Park began collecting information on and monitoring Blanding’s turtles in the park in 2000. With the area slated to become Canada’s first national urban park, Parks Canada has come on board and will continue to work on a long-term turtle monitoring program.
Earth Rangers provided support for the project by building a facility to house the turtle eggs and babies at the Toronto Zoo. Earth Rangers are proud supporters of the zoo’s Head-Starting Program and have signed up over 17,000 kids to help protect the Blanding’s turtle through their Bring Back the Wild fundraising campaign.
Additional support for the program has been provided by The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Toronto Field Naturalists, the City of Toronto, and Environment Canada.
In 2014 the Toronto Zoo is celebrating 40 Years of saving and protecting animals and their habitats at home and abroad.
More than a tourist attraction, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats - from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except December 25 and attracts approximately 1.3 million visitors each year.
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Celebrating 40 Years Of Saving And Protecting Species.
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