World Turtle Day

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World Turtle Day
Date May 23
Next time 23 May 2015 (2015-05)
Frequency annual
Eastern box turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina

The purpose of World Turtle Day, May 23, sponsored yearly since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, is to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.[1][2][3]

Turtle Day is celebrated worldwide in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles or wearing green summer dresses, to saving turtles caught on highways, to research activities. Turtle Day lesson plans and craft projects encourage teaching about turtles in classrooms.

Promoting organizations[edit]

Founded in 1990, American Tortoise Rescue[4] is the founding sponsor of World Turtle Day.[5] American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is certified by state and federal agencies as a nonprofit 501(c)(3)corporation to provide for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle. Foundlings that cannot be adopted because of ill health remain in the care of American Tortoise Rescue for the remainder of their lives.

Featured in Chase’s Book of Annual Events,[6] the day was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of the rescue American Tortoise Rescue advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.

World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. Turtles and Tortoises are some of the most amazing and endangered animals on the planet. Armed with knowledge and passion for these gentle animals, we can come together to preserve Turtle and Tortoise species throughout the world.

Adults and children can do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation:

  • If you are looking for a pet, purchase a captive bred animal from a reputable store or breeder. Do not take home a wild turtle as a pet.
  • Never release a pet turtle into the wild. Turtles kept in captivity may not have the important nutrients they need to survive through the cold winter. In addition, pet turtles may not be native to your area and should not interbreed with wild turtles.[7]
  • Join a local Turtle and Tortoise club to learn more.
  • Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
  • If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and take it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
  • Help keep beaches and other natural habitats clean. Never leave trash and pick up garbage left by others.
  • Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.

In 2011, Jagex Games Studios hosted a number of events within their MMORPG, RuneScape, to celebrate World Turtle Day.[8]

In 2013, over 160 free Turtle Day Lesson plans and teaching materials were sent out to classrooms for use with over 5,500 students. Lesson plans were provided by the Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group (TTPG), an organization that is open to all people interested in the welfare of chelonians. The TTPG is a non-profit 501c3, founded in 1996 to help ensure survival of the world's turtle and tortoise species. Individuals that maintain captive collections have a great responsibility to ensure their chelonians are properly cared for and maintained. Whether you are a member or not, the TTPG will help you fulfill this responsibility by providing information on the care and maintenance of turtles and tortoises.[9]

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