Peter Pritchard

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Dr. Peter Pritchard
Peter Pritchard.jpg
BornJune 26, 1943
Alma materUniversity of Florida
Oxford University
Known forWork for the Conservation of turtles
Scientific career
InstitutionsChelonian Research Institute

Peter Pritchard (born 1943) is a leading turtle zoologist. Educated at Oxford University and the University of Florida, where he earned his Ph.D. in Zoology, he is most commonly known for his campaign of almost 40 years for the conservation of turtles. Appropriately, his privately funded Chelonian Research Institute, for the study and preservation of turtles, is located in Oviedo, Florida, United States, just a half hour's drive from Disney World. Frank Sulloway had noted that Pritchard 'has amassed nearly 12,000 tortoise and turtle skeletons - the third largest collections in the world.'

Pritchard's most important and innovative work has been along the Atlantic coast of Guyana, the South American country that is home to four of the world's seven known sea turtle species: the leatherback, green, hawksbill and the olive ridley. By the 1960s, overhunting by local Arawak Indians — themselves an endangered group — had ravaged the turtle population.

Pritchard lobbied Guyana and private sources for grants that lowered the Arawak consumption of turtle meat, and helped them to farm chickens. He hired Arawaks at his study camp to tag turtles for research and to police nesting grounds to prevent attacks from poachers. The turtle population has increased, he says, because turtle protection is now "a family discipline thing" among Arawaks "rather than an outsider laying down the law." Along the way, Pritchard's own scholarship has benefited from centuries' worth of tribal turtle knowledge. He has also done extensive study and written books about alligator snapping turtles and Galapagos tortoises.


Pritchard is honored in the scientific names of three turtles, Podocnemis pritchardi ,[1] Chelodina pritchardi and Mauremys pritchardi.[2]


  1. ^ Wood RC (1997). "Turtles". In: Kay RF, Madden RH, Cifelli RL, Flynn JJ (editors). Vertebrate Paleontology in the Neotropics. The Miocene Fauna of La Venta, Colombia. Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Pritchard", pp. 211-212).

Further reading[edit]

  • Sulloway, F.J. (2006). "Is lonesome George really lonesome?" Skeptic 12 (4): 58-70.

External links[edit]