Endangered Western Pond Turtle Found in Seattle Suburb

SEATTLE, July 22—Excited workers in the Woodland Park Zoo Animal Hospital were busy giving a small turtle a physical work-over Friday. The turtle was discovered on the side of a road in Edmonds and was eventually turned over to the zoo, where biologists recognized it as a Western Pond Turtle (Emys marmorata), a member of Washington State’s Endangered Species List.

The once-plentiful turtles nearly went extinct in the state 30 years ago. Since then, Woodland Park and other zoos have developed a captive breeding program, which has helped raise the numbers from the hundreds to the thousands. The healthy turtle found in Edmonds is apparently a stranger to the programs and brings a fresh genetic strain to the population. Veterinarians weighed it, X-rayed it, and gave it a thorough physical exam. They say so far, it’s all systems go, and the turtle should be released into a pond soon where it can help bolster the struggling population.

—Gary Chittim / KING 5 News, July 22, 2011

Read more on the western pond turtle recovery project: Woodland Park Zoo to Release Endangered Pond Turtles Back into Wild.

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