Since 2000, people around the globe have celebrated World Turtle Day, held this year on May 23, to increase respect for and knowledge of the world’s oldest creatures. Susan Tellem, co-founder with Marshall Thompson of American Turtle Rescue (ATR), states, “These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic food industry, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade.”
They believe that turtles may be extinct within 50 years and suggest ways to increase their chances for survival for future generations:
- Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop; 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 street, pick it up and gently place it on the other side in the same direction it was headed.
- Write legislators about keeping sensitive habitats preserved.
- Report cruelty or illegal sales to a local animal control shelter.
- Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise less than four inches long, which is illegal throughout the U.S.