Number 23: An Underdog Story

Meet turtle 23, a Western pond turtle hatched at the Woodland Park Zoo in 2013.

The Western pond turtle, one of the first ten species selected for AZA SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction, is vulnerable due to habitat loss, predation, and disease. A number of institutions in its native Washington, Oregon, and California are working to help – including the Woodland Park Zoo, where turtle hatchlings are raised by keepers and prepared for release into the wild.

According to the zoo blog, “For more than two decades, Woodland Park Zoo has partnered with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Zoo and others to give these turtles a fighting chance. As part of our Living Northwest conservation program, we collect their eggs from the wild, hatch and raise them in the safety of the zoo until they are large enough to avoid invasive predators, and release the turtles into local waterways to rebuild their wild populations.”

Back in 2013, little 23 was among the smallest of the 130+ residents of the zoo’s turtle rearing unit. As his class of 2013 cohorts grew and became big enough to be released into the wild, this little guy missed the weigh-in requirements by just a few ounces. So he stayed on another year, met the 2014 new arrivals, and the little underdogturtle got a second chance.

Read 23’s full story