Ornate Box Turtle Press Materials

Lincoln Park Zoo Re-introduces Ornate Box Turtles in Illinois Prairie

Twenty turtles given new start with Lincoln Park Zoo and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Chicago (June 19, 2014) — In an effort to restore natural grasslands and prairies in Illinois, 20 ornate box turtles have found a new home near the upper Mississippi River after being re-introduced to the land by Lincoln Park Zoo and the U.S. Fish  & Wildlife Service (USFWS) on Wednesday.

The ornate box turtle eggs were provided by the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Savanna, Illinois and then transferred to the zoo where they were incubated, hatched and raised without the threat of predation. Once the animals had matured and given a clean bill of health, they returned to USFWS where they received unique markings and transmitters for research purposes.

“The transmitters allow USFWS to track the turtles’ activities and gather research about movement patterns, nesting grounds, diet and preferred environment,” said Diane Mulkerin, Lincoln Park Zoo curator. “This research is a critical part in understanding these animals and determining additional ways we can continue contributing to the natural population of this species.”

Six of the turtles were re-introduced to sand prairies in Thomson, Ill. and 14 at Lost Mound in Savanna, Ill. both of which are a part of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife and Fish Refuge that stretches over 261 river miles. These 20 turtles contribute to USFWS goal of populating the areas with 100 turtles by 2020 which includes natural and re-introduced populations.

In addition to the ornate box turtles, Lincoln Park Zoo participates in re-introduction programs for meadow-jumping mice and smooth green snakes in Illinois as well as red wolves, trumpeter swans, Guam rails and other threatened and endangered species across the U.S.



Media Contacts

Sharon Dewar
(312) 742-2246



Jillian Braun
(312) 742-5791


Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos. For more information, call 312 -742-2000 or visit www.lpzoo.org.





Ornate Box Turtle Video  (169MB .mp4)