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California Sanctuary Sponsors Day To Honor One of the World's Oldest Creatures


American Tortoise Rescue

Celebrates World Turtle Day May 23rd


Malibu, Calif.; May 12, 2008    American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring World Turtle Day on May 23rd.  Featured in Chase's Book of Annual Events, the day was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.  Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, married founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals and especially reptiles.
"World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and knowledge for the world's oldest creatures.  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," says Tellem. "We are seeing smaller and smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced.  It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world"

Tellem and Thompson note that experts predict the complete disappearance of these creatures within the next 50 years.  They recommend that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation.

· Never buy a turtle or tortoise as it increases demand from the wild.  Adopt from a rescue.
· Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless it is sick or injured.  If they are crossing a busy street, pick them up and send them in the same direction they were going – if you try to make them go back, they will turn right around again. 
· Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles.
· Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control department. 
· Report any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches being sold.  This is illegal everywhere in the U.S. 

ATR offers permanent sanctuary to injured, abandoned and lost turtles and tortoises, as well as temporary housing for those confiscated by law enforcement.  The ones that are too ill or abused for adoption remain in the care of ATR permanently.  Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes.  Because of ATR's activities on the Internet and direct mail, the rescue enjoys a positive reputation among international humane organizations, federal and state animal protection agencies, reptile lovers and the general public. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles. 

"Outlaw vendors at the beach, at downtown Mercados and at Asian live food markets throughout the U.S. are a major problem for turtles, especially the hatchling 'red eared slider' water turtles.  These have an almost 100% mortality rate due to ignorance about their care," Tellem says. 

"Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world.  But our first job is here in the U.S. where pet stores and reptile shows sell illegal hatchling tortoises of all species," says Thompson  "People who are unfamiliar with their proper care run a real risk of contracting salmonella from these turtles."

For answers to questions, adoption forms, information sheets and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online at or by sending e-mail to

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