The Painted Turtles Are Here!

Yesterday was an exciting day at Nature Boardwalk! The pond now has 10 new reptile residents.

Kids from Beidler School helped with the painted turtle introduction. I walked to the edge of the water with groups of two or three children, and together we tilted over the individual containers the turtles were housed in. This allowed the turtles to make their way out of the container and then decide where to swim next.

Kids from Beidler Elementary help introduce the native reptiles to their new home.

Most of the turtles didn’t need any extra motivation, as they were ready to get out of those small containers. I’m sure they’ll have an interesting time exploring the pond and finding their way around. The kids that helped me were great: cooperative and very respectful of the turtles.

Earlier, behind the scenes, the five biggest turtles were fitted with radio transmitters. These will allow zoo biologists, including me, to track the movement of the turtles, seeing where they spend their time and how they’re doing at the pond.

A painted turtle ready for reintroduction (you can see its transmitter at the base of its shell).

All the turtles were also implanted with transponders by the zoo’s veterinary staff. Each transponder has a unique number to identify that animal. With the turtle in hand, one can scan the transponder with a reader similar to a barcode reader at the supermarket.

Lastly, small notches in the shell unique to each turtle will allow researchers to distinguish the turtles visually. These are all identification methods that will allow scientists at Nature Boardwalk to track the health and well-being of our new turtle population.

Now the next step is population monitoring. I’m looking forward tracking these turtles and seeing where they’re spending their time at the pond!

Vicky Hunt


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