The purpose of World Turtle Day, May 23, sponsored yearly since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, is to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.
Turtle Day is celebrated worldwide in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles or wearing green summer dresses, to saving turtles caught on highways, to research activities.
Founded in 1990, American Tortoise Rescue is the founding sponsor of World Turtle Day. American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is certified by state and federal agencies as a nonprofit 501(c)(3)corporation to provide for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle. Foundlings that cannot be adopted because of ill health remain in the care of American Tortoise Rescue for the remainder of their lives.
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, founders of the rescue American Tortoise Rescue advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. 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.
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.
Adults and children can do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation:
– Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as 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 busy street, pick it up and take it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
– Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.
– Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
– Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches. This is illegal everywhere in the U.S.
In 2011, Jagex Games Studios hosted a number of events within their MMORPG, RuneScape, to celebrate World Turtle Day.