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On what day is World Turtle Day celebrated? May 23rd

What is World Turtle Day? This day is for celebrating turtles around the world as well as raising awareness about their need for protection. Today, there are close to 129 species of turtles that are endangered—that’s close to half of all turtle species worldwide! Current threats to turtles include hunting, climate change and illegal pet trade. However, these turtle species can be spared through education, protection efforts and scientific research.

Here are some fun facts about turtles:

  • Turtles have existed for more than 215 million years. This makes them the oldest reptile group in the word—beating snakes and alligators.
  • Sea turtles have glands that remove salt from the water they drink.
  • The largest turtle species is the leatherback sea turtle, which can weigh over 2000 lb!
  • The upper part of a turtle’s shell is called a “carapace” and the lower part is called the “plastron”.
  • Many baby turtles start out their lives as carnivores, but switch to a more plant-based diet as they mature.

Who founded this day? This day was founded by the American Tortoise Rescue in 1990.

What is the hashtag? Use the hashtag #WorldTurtleDay when sharing on social media.

How to celebrate: The best way to “shell-ebrate” this great reptile is to help protection efforts. The American Tortoise Rescue recommends the following tips:

  • Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet store. This increases the demand for finding turtles in the wild, endangering them further.
  • Don’t remove turtles from the wild unless they are sick or injured. If they’re sick or injured, bring them to a veterinary professional right away.
  • If you find a turtle crossing a busy street, pick it up and send them the same direction they were going. If you make it go back, they will turn around and try to cross the street again.
  • Report any sales of turtles that are less than 4 inches. This is illegal in the United States.
  • Report any cruelty or illegal sales to your local animal control shelter.
  • Write letters to your legislators asking them to preserve the habitats turtles need as well as to prevent offshore drilling that can endanger more sea turtles.  

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