American Tortoise Rescue launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world. (See slide show here.)
Biologists and other experts predict the disappearance of turtles and tortoises within the next 50 years. Adults and children can do a few small things that can help save turtles and tortoises for future generations.
Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
If a tortoise is crossing a busy highway, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again (but be safe yourself!).
Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles and to prevent offshore drilling that can lead to endangered sea turtle deaths.
Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
Report tiny turtles less than four inches sold at pet stores and street vendors or used as prizes at carnivals and other events. Their sale has been illegal since 1974.
ATR’s ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world. The first priority here in the U.S. is to ask pet stores and reptile shows to stop the sale of hatchling tortoises and turtles without proper information for the buyer. For example, many people buy sulcata tortoises as an impulse buy because they are so adorable when they are tiny. The breeders and pet stores frequently do not tell the buyers that this tortoise can grow to 100 pounds or more and needs constant heat throughout the year since they do not hibernate.
ATR also educates people and schools about the real risk of contracting salmonella from water turtles. Wash hands thoroughly every time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring turtles into schools or homes where children are under the age of 12.
Some of the highlights to make World Turtle Day special, include:
Everyone can join the party at home, at a pub or at work! ATR created a World Turtle Day Party Pack that can be accessed for free here http://bit.ly/1YwebJR
Like the World Turtle Day page on Facebook and join thousands of fans who are enjoying selfies, baking and other contests and prizes in honor of World Turtle Day.
Follow @WorldTurtleDay on Twitter where last year it trended at the top when thousands of people tweeted #worldturtleday to spread the good word about turtles.