36 Baby Blanding’s Turtles released in Rouge National Urban Park

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The Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority released 36 baby Blanding’s Turtles in Rouge National Urban Park on Tuesday. Blanding’s Turtles are a provincially and nationally threatened species. They discovered their new home in Canada’s largest urban park to promote the conservation of the species.

Close-up on Blanding’s Turtle

Thirty-six baby Blanding’s Turtles, raised in a controlled environment at the Toronto Zoo, have found a new home in the wilderness of Rouge National Urban Park, located on the Toronto-Pickering border.

Volunteer holding a turtle

The Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) reintroduced the small turtles to the park on Tuesday.

Blanding’s turtle spots

Baby Blanding’s Turtles measure an average of 10 cm. long with a smooth black upper shell with small yellow spots and a bright yellow chin and throat. Blanding’s turtles can live up to 80 years and have inhabited the Rouge Valley for thousands of years. Despite being a long-lived species, two years ago they were almost classified as endangered.

Turtle crawling in the grass

“Blanding’s turtles are a flagship species representing a group of animals facing various threats,” said Toronto Zoo Reptile and Amphibian Curator Dr. Andrew Lentini. Blanding’s turtles are threatened by increased human interactions, habitat loss, and nest predation by raccoons, skunks, foxes and other wildlife.

Blanding’s turtle close up

Only six Blanding’s Turtles remained in the wild in the Rouge Valley region in 2014. They have been reintroduced to the park each spring for three consecutive years. Although there are over 300 species of turtles worldwide, the Blanding’s Turtle is one of seven species listed in Ontario as Threatened, Endangered, or Special Concern.

Volunteer holding a turtle

“Seven of the eight species of turtles in Ontario are at risk and need our help,” Lentini said, urging Canadians to play a role in their preservation by visiting the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond website and reporting sightings to the Ontario Turtle Tally Zoo. .

The turtle sticks out its head

21 baby Blanding’s turtles were released in June 2015 and 10 the year before. Like all turtles, they are largely aquatic and live in wetlands.

Blanding’s turtle stretches its neck

The zoo and the TRCA collected information on Blanding’s Turtles and monitored them in the Rouge Valley in 2005. The zoo collected Blanding’s Turtle eggs from a stable source population elsewhere in southern Ontario in 2014 and raised them in a protected environment for their reintroduction into the wild since.

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