City Cast

The Northwestern Pond Turtles at the Oregon Zoo

Adrian González
Adrian González
Posted on August 17
A human hand holding a tiny turtle about half the size of a palm.

This little turtle is elated to be in its new home. (Oregon Zoo / YouTube)

The Oregon Zoo is now home to 11 adorably tiny northwestern pond turtles. It’s part of ongoing conservation efforts and I want to tell you all about it.

Why They’re at the Zoo

In short: they’re endangered and their size makes them vulnerable to predators like the much larger American bullfrog. The zoo’s conservation and other local partners launched the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project to care for the reptiles until they grow large enough to fend for themselves in the wild.

Quarter-Sized Fun

But they’re worth a million dollars in my heart. These little creatures start small, but they can grow to about 6-8 inches in adulthood.

A human hand holds a tiny turtle. The turtle flails its body.

The Oregon Zoo has been part of northwestern pond turtle recovery efforts since 1998. (Courtesy of the Oregon Zoo)

Rest and Recover

Only two northwestern pond turtles were left in Washington in 1990 when the state began dedicated recovery efforts. Since then, 1,800 turtles have been “head-started” and released back into the wild throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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