Zoo receives conservation award

Aldergrove's Greater Vancouver Zoo has received the Peter Karsten Conservation Award

Andrea Gielens

Aldergrove’s Greater Vancouver Zoo has received the Peter Karsten Conservation Award from Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), in acknowledgement of its conservation efforts for the Western Painted Turtles.

This award recognizes an individual or institutional achievement in the field of conservation. Applications are encouraged for projects in the fields of conservation education, “green” operations, habitat preservation, species restoration or support for biodiversity.

For the past three years the Greater Vancouver Zoo and its partners have established a successful “head start” program with the goal of rearing and releasing individuals with an increased chance of survival, increasing population numbers and creating self-sustaining populations at historical and restored sites through captive breeding and head starting.

The head started animals are released at targeted population recovery sites determined by the Western Painted Turtle Recovery Team and supported by site assessments pre-release as well as continued monitoring and habitat restoration.

The releasing of some of the only remaining pond turtles in B.C., Western Painted Turtles, back to the wild are have grown from 73 hatchlings in 2013 to 120 hatchlings last year. About 130 hatchlings slated for release in 2016.

“There is very little known about hatchling and juvenile turtle behaviours, movements and habitat needs, and this data will help to inform both this species’ conservation as well as many related species and turtles in general,” says Andrea Gielens , wildlife biologist. Gielens is a respected biologist who has worked with the zoo’s animal care department for the past 10 years, on both the endangered Oregon Spotted Frogs and Western Painted Turtles conservation projects.

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the Pacific Coast population of the Western Painted Turtle is listed as endangered, while the Intermountain – Rocky Mountain population is listed as special concern. A short supply of suitable habitats due to urban development, drainage of wetlands, forestry, road building, and other human activities are a limiting factor for this species and other freshwater turtles.

The Western Painted Turtle is named after the bright yellow stripes on its head, neck, tail and legs, and the glowing red on its plastron (shell covering the belly) and under-edge of its carapace (shell covering the back). They can grow to over a foot in length, and can often been seen basking in areas completely surrounded by water to avoid predators.

Why should we help the coastal population of turtles? Loss of habitat, poor nesting sites, increased road mortality, competition from invasive species, slow to mature, reproduce at most every second year, and lay only one clutch per year. What to do if you see these turtles in the wild? Keep your distance, do not move them or take wild turtle’s home as pets. Be careful not to trample on turtle nest sites.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is very grateful and thankful for the continued support of the Western Painted Turtle Recovery Program from the Wildlife Preservation Canada (www.wildlifepreservation.ca).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Illicit dumping an expensive problem for Langley Township

Six incidents in three weeks have cost $60,000

LETTER: Quiet Langley street feels like Indy 500 track

Drivers gunning it on her street has one local resident irked

Langley rotary volunteers take to the streets to promote lottery fundraiser

Local clubs have raised $17,000 so far for 50/50 lottery

Scheduled road closures in Langley

Some projects are scheduled to begin this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

COVID-19 testing lineup wraps around block in Chilliwack

Testing lineup includes seniors, children and their parents as demand seems to surge

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Most Read