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Date: September 23, 2014



Aldergrove – Another exciting year for turtles and the Greater Vancouver Zoo as we have released some of the only remaining pond turtle in BC, Western Painted Turtles, back into the wild!

We removed eggs from nests in the Fraser Valley that were of high risk for disturbance, and 40 hatchlings were released back at two priority sites determined by the recovery team in the last two  weeks.   Transmitters were attached to 18 of the turtles so they can be radio tracked, and will provide us more information on their survival and habitat use.

Western Painted Turtles with their transmitters             Off swimming in their natural habitat

“There is very little known about hatchling and juvenile turtle behaviour/movements and habitat needs, this data will help to inform both this species conservation as well as many related species and turtles in general,” says Andrea Gielens (Wildlife Biologist). Andrea is a well-respected biologist who has worked with the Zoo’s Animal Care Department for about 10 years now, on both the endangered Oregon Spotted Frogs and Western Painted Turtles conservation projects.There are 13 more turtles that were retained to allow them more time to grow and will likely be released next spring.

     Being released to their natural habitat

Last year we released 12 turtles back into the same location where their eggs where originally collected in the Sunshine Coast.We originally started in spring 2012 when we participated in taking eggs from the emergency locations and bringing them back to be incubated at the Zoo.

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the Pacific Coast Population of the Western Painted Turtle is listed as endangered, while the Intermountain - Rocky Mountain Population is listed as special concern.A short supply of suitable habitats due to urban development, drainage of wetlands, forestry, road building, and other human activities are a limiting factor for this species and other freshwater turtles.

The Western Painted Turtle is named after the bright yellow stripes on its head, neck, tail and legs, and the glowing red on its plastron (shell covering the belly) and under-edge of its carapace (shell covering the back). They can grow to over a foot in length, and can often been seen basking in areas completely surrounded by water to avoid predators.

If you see a Painted Turtle, the best thing to do is to keep your distance, do not move them or take wild turtles home as pets. Be careful not to trample on turtle nest sites.

The Province of B.C. contributes both funding and ‘in kind’ contributions in support of the project. This includes staff time, equipment, research funding related to the radio-tagging of the turtles, and overflow facilities for rearing them until they can be released back into the wild.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is very grateful and thankful for the continued support of the Western Painted Turtle Recovery Program from the Wildlife Preservation Canada (

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Media Contact:

Jody Henderson
General Manager
Phone:604.856.6825 x 27

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Phone: 604.856.6825