May 23, 2019

 There are nearly 350 species of turtles and tortoises on the planet today. Sadly, over half of these species are currently threatened by extinction. Major threats to turtles and tortoises include habitat loss, over-hunting, pollution, infectious diseases, climate change, road mortality and increased predation. - Jeff Dawson, Herpetarium Keeper. #turtletakeover

Southeast Asia is home to a large diversity of turtles and tortoises; however, over 80 percent of Asia’s turtle species are now threatened. The Saint Louis Zoo is helping to ensure the future of Asian turtles, both at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium and in the wild. I have been able to collaborate on field research of endangered turtles in China and Vietnam. In addition, a new program of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute is contributing to Asian turtle conservation by supporting the Turtle Survival Alliance and the Asian Turtle Program in Vietnam. - Jeff Dawson, Herpetarium Keeper. #turtletakeover


There are 14 species of turtles that you can see at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium. Unfortunately, hunting for the food, traditional medicine and pet trades has threatened many of these species. The giant Asian pond turtle (Heosemys grandis) is one species that is vulnerable to trade. Be sure to look for a male pond turtle in the central atrium of the Herpetarium. This handsome gentleman can be found “smiling” on his favorite rock most afternoons. - Katie Noble, Herpetarium Keeper. #turtletakeover

Turtle Road Watch: Give Turtles a Brake!

Our extensive road network in the United States may be leading to turtle declines. In the United States, road mortality alone is estimated to account for 10 to 20 percent of turtle deaths each year. Help researchers identify areas of high turtle road mortality in the St. Louis region. A new crowd-sourcing project, Turtle Road Watch, has been developed by concerned members of our community to monitor the direct impact of our road systems on local turtle populations. Help researchers identify areas of high turtle road mortality in the St. Louis region by joining the Turtle Road Watch community at the link below. #turtletakeover

Learn more here

The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Chelonian Conservation takes a comprehensive "One Health" approach to turtle conservation, both locally and abroad. In St. Louis, we try to better understand how the environment affects the health of wildlife and humans alike by monitoring the health and movement of our tagged box turtles in Forest Park and at the Tyson Research Center. Not so close to home, on the Galápagos Islands, we also focus on conserving the giant Galápagos tortoises using cutting-edge science alongside our inspiring tortoise-based outreach and education program. #turtletakeover

It’s not easy being a turtle. Freshwater turtles and tortoises are one of the world’s most threatened groups of species; today, more than 40 percent are at serious risk of extinction. While their shells provide great protection against predators, they can’t protect them from habitat loss, illegal pet trafficking or pollution. Learn how you can help turtles! Come to the Saint Louis Zoo tomorrow to celebrate #WorldTurtleDay#turtletakeover - Samantha Capel, Herpetarium Keeper

Have you ever seen a turtle with a runny nose? If you have, that turtle may have been suffering from an upper respiratory tract disease caused by a Mycoplasma infection. The symptoms include fatigue, swollen eyelids, a runny nose and watery eyes, similar to the colds you experience during the winter! A few years ago, we noticed that Georgette, one of our tagged box turtles in Forest Park, was suffering from this disease. Luckily, when we gave her a check-up a few weeks later, she had fought off the disease! #turtletakeover