August for Animals may be behind us and the first signs of winter are starting to appear but our conservation efforts are stronger than ever at the Zoo and we want you to get involved!
Be here to care:
This season we encourage you to fall in love with the Western Painted Turtles who live at the Zoo, and who wouldn’t- they’re adorable! The turtles live here until they are old enough to venture out on their own in the wild. Since 2012, we have been rescuing eggs from dangerous locations and incubating them in a safe environment at the Zoo. When the hatchlings are big enough to survive, we release them at various locations around BC. You can read more about our program here.
Be here to learn:
Have you ever seen a western painted turtle before? Each hatchling has a belly pattern that is unique to them! The overall shape and features of the pattern are the same for each turtle, but the pattern itself looks different. The stripes also become more complex as the turtle ages. Isn’t it beautiful?
While the pattern is unique, because the overall shape is the same it is still very difficult to know who is who! So we have a couple of other methods that we count on in order to identify them.
1. Shell Notching
In order to track the wild turtles, we give them a little notch pattern on the side of their shell. This feels to them similar to getting an ear pierced would to us. On the left side, the pattern relates to a site code and shows us what area they originated from if we happen to find them at a new location. On the right side, the notch differentiates the individual turtle so we can monitor the health and wellbeing of them all.
2. Pit Tagging
Similar to the way you would microchip your household pets, such as a dog or cat, a chip with a unique number is inserted under the turtle’s skin. The chips are easily scannable when out in the wild and allow us to quickly know which turtle we are examining. This is very helpful for identifying turtles that are too small for notching to be successful; however, this process can be quite costly.
Be here to share:
Help support our conservation efforts and get your own Western Painted Turtle “We’ve Got Your Back” t-shirt when you donate $10 or more to the Greater Vancouver Zoo conservation fund. When you get your shirt, we encourage you decorate it! The design is based off the western painted turtle so it gives you lots of room to paint a unique design on the shell. When you are done, share your masterpiece with us on Facebook or Instagram to be entered in our t-shirt decorating competition!