Photo © Woodland Park Zoo | Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren
Slow and steady wins the race to recovery for the western pond turtle. The Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project began in 1991 when there were just 150 left in Washington. After 25 years, the project has grown the population to over 800, having released 2,150 reared turtles to date.
The species originally became endangered because of disease, habitat loss and predation from the non-native bullfrog and largemouth bass. The project collects eggs from a protected recovery site and raises the turtles at the Woodland Park Zoo until they’re large enough to protect themselves from predators.
After hatching, the turtles are between the size of a quarter and a silver dollar, reaching about 2 ounces when fully grown. Unlike in the wild, turtles raised in captivity are given food through the winter, which allows them to grow to the size of a 3-year-old in just 10 months.
This year, the zoo was home to more than 40 western pond turtle hatchlings, which were cared for through the winter and released in the summer.
For more information about Woodland Park Zoo, visit zoo.org.