It's World Turtle Day, and we can't think of a better way of celebrating our shell-wearing friends than by watching a troupe of the little guys released on a beach in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
World Turtle Day was created in 2000 by the Malibu-based nonprofit American Tortoise Rescue, which has found homes for more than 3,000 turtles and tortoises since its inception in 1990. (The group also houses about 100 "permanent resident" turtles and tortoises, many of which arrived at the rescue too injured to be rehomed.)
American Tortoise Rescue co-founder Susan Tellem explains that World Turtle Day was launched "to increase respect for and knowledge about one of the world's oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the live food markets, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade." The group offers some simple ways to help turtles and tortoises:
- Never buy a turtle or tortoise, as it increases demand from the wild. Adopt from a rescue.
- Don't take turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured. If they are crossing a busy street, pick them up and send them in the same direction they were going; if you try to make them go back, they will turn right around again.
- Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off-road vehicles.
- Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control department, Fish & Game or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
For more information on the strides made this year on behalf of these lovable reptilians, check out the Humane Society of the United States' website.
- Report any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches in size being sold at pet stores or mercados. This practice is illegal everywhere in the U.S.
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