NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodMcLennan CountyWaco


This interactive experience is helping raise awareness for endangered turtles and tortoises

Conservation leaders at the Cameron Park Zoo held an interactive activity for families to raise awareness.
Posted at 7:28 AM, Mar 11, 2024

WACO, Texas — “People pulling them out of the wild for pets, they eat them," Connie Kessner, an educator curator at Cameron Park Zoo, said.

And this is the problem, and it's a slow race to save turtles and tortoises.

But there is an effort conservation leaders at the zoo are working on to save them. Saturday they held an interactive experience with the public including children.

“So they're also using this as awareness to teach them about the importance of these turtles, how they benefit the ecosystem, and then why they need to be protected," Kessner said.

According to Kessner, over 50% of turtles and tortoises species are endangered. Cameron Park Zoo is raising money and awareness to help keep these reptiles safe—in turn, helping keep our ecosystem safe.

“So they will help keep things like small insects, small mammals and worms—their populations—and it's all checks and balances of predators and prey making sure that ecosystem is functioning as it should," reptile expert Danielle Warren said.

Warren said turtles and tortoises have a hard knock life.

“A lot of them are facing issues from things like habitat loss, as well as over collection for the pet trade because people see that turtles and tortoises and they want them as pets," Warren said.

She told me Texas tortoises are illegal to own in Texas as pets.

“They're using those for breeding purposes so that we can breed and help increase that population," Kessner said.

And in order to keep our hard shell friends alive, raising awareness is important. And it can all start with our neighbors right here in Central Texas.

"They need things like enrichment, food—lettuce is expensive, lots of veggies are expensive,” Warren said.

Even if you think you've missed your opportunity to help raise money, whenever you purchase a ticket to the zoo, the money is spread to help turtles stay alive.