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Woodland Park Zoo - Press Release


November 27, 2012

Zoo works to stem global turtle extinction phenomenon

Gigi Allianic, Caileigh Robertson
206.548.2550 |


Woodland Park Zoo works to stem global turtle extinction phenomenon and celebrates recent hatchlings from two turtle species, the Egyptian tortoise and western Washington pond turtle.   

Photo Credit: Ryan/Woodland Park Zoo


More than 50 percent of the world’s known turtle species are facing extinction, making the reptiles one of the most endangered groups of animals on the planet. Woodland Park Zoo, in partnership with local and international conservation leaders, is playing an active role in augmenting turtle populations through its successful captive breeding and head starting programs. The zoo recently welcomed new hatchlings from two turtle species, the Egyptian tortoise and western Washington pond turtle.

The press is invited to a photo op of the hatchlings Thursday, November 29, 11:00 a.m.

One of the zoo’s new hatchling species, the Egyptian tortoise, is among the top 40 tortoises and freshwater turtles at a very high risk of extinction. In 17 years, Woodland Park Zoo has produced more Egyptian tortoise hatchlings on average than any other zoo in the U.S., hatching more than 75 tortoises. The zoo supports the Egyptian Tortoise Conservation Program to help increase the species’ wild population and genetic diversity.

The new western pond turtle hatchlings are part of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project. In Washington state, the species is endangered and its population is rapidly declining. To give these animals a head start, the zoo and its partner Oregon Zoo rear hatchlings each year until they are large enough to avoid predation in the wild. For 21 years, Woodland Park Zoo has led the recovery project and released nearly 1,500 turtles back into protected habitats.

Habitat loss and degradation, overhunting, competition with invasive species, predation and the illegal pet trade are among a number of threats turtle species encounter in Washington state and around the world.

Visit the zoo’s western pond turtles, Egyptian tortoises, other reptiles and amphibians day or night this winter. WildLights, the zoo’s sparkling, after-hours event features reptiles and amphibians in the Day Exhibit. Approximately 375,000 energy-efficient LED lights recreate wild animals and wild places in two and three dimensions along the zoo’s pathways and North Meadow. WildLights is open November 23-January 1, 5:30-8:30 nightly and will be closed December 24-25.


Thursday, November 29, 11:00 a.m. 


Meet PR staff at the West Entrance at Phinney Ave. N. between N. 55th & N. 56th Sts. Park in the inner north lot off N. 59th St. & Phinney Ave. N. where offices are located. 

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit


Woodland Park Zoo saves animals and their habitats through conservation leadership and engaging experiences, inspiring people to learn, care and act.