Turtles and tortoises are common sightings in parables, stories, and pop culture and we celebrate World Turtle Day on May 23 to honor these resilient animals. Turtles and tortoises are associated with wisdom and perseverance. They are reptiles that are found in many environments all around the world. These creatures play an important role in their respective ecosystems. They dig holes that are inhabited by other creatures and keep our beaches clean by feeding on dead fish that wash up on the shores. They maintain an ecological balance and, therefore, it’s important to conserve these gentle animals.
History of World Turtle Day
It’s easy to get confused between a tortoise and turtle. The main difference between the two is that turtles sometimes live in the water, while tortoises only live on the land. Turtles live up to the age of 40 and have streamlined and mostly flat shells. On the other hand, tortoises can live up to 300 years and they have larger, more domed shells. You will mostly find turtles in the sea, while tortoises inhabit dense jungles and grasslands.
Turtles and tortoises are two different animals but this day is dedicated to celebrating and protecting both. The day was first celebrated by American Tortoise Rescue in 2002 and it highlights the suffering and the dwindling numbers of these animals due to human interference and environmental hazards. Schools, rescue centers, and nature lovers all come together on this day to learn more about these creatures and pledge their allegiance to help save them.
American Tortoise Rescue was created by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson. They organize charity drives and actively work to spread awareness for the critical conditions of these shelled reptiles. The couple is known for their humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles. Since its establishment in 1990, American Tortoise Rescue has given homes to over 4,000 tortoises and turtles. The organization also assists their local law enforcement in guarding turtles’ natural habitats and tending to them when they are sick.
World Turtle Day timeline
The first versions of Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” are published.
Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson establish American Tortoise Rescue.
The first World Turtle Day is celebrated by ATR.
USPS prints its first batch of Save the Sea Turtle Stamps and donates the proceedings from it to the species’ conservation.
World Turtle Day FAQs
When is World Turtle Day celebrated?
It is celebrated every year on May 23.
Who is the turtle god?
According to Hinduism, ‘Kurma’ is the turtle god.
Why do we celebrate World Turtle Day
World Turtle Day is celebrated to increase awareness about these creatures and ensure their protection.
How to celebrate
Adopt a turtle
Adopt a turtle or a tortoise from the rescue shelter. These creatures make for hassle-free pets. They do need much attention and are perfect pets for young children!
Donate to turtle conservation centers
You may want to donate to local tortoise conservation centers as well as American Tortoise Rescue. No amount is small and your donation will go a long way!
Volunteer to help out
You could sign up at a turtle rescue center and volunteer to help out. Volunteers can help out by tending to sick turtles, feeding them, etc.!
5 Facts About Turtles That Will Blow Your Mind
The shell is part of the skeleton
The shell is the most distinguished part of a turtle and experts say that it is made of 50 bones!
It is one of the most illegally traded animals
Turtles and tortoises are illegally traded for their meat, shell, and skin — this has led to the endangerment of the creatures.
There are 300 species of turtles
Turtles may all look the same to us but there are actually 300 species of them — of these, 129 are endangered.
Turtles are cold-blooded animals
Turtles are cold-blooded animals with a slow metabolism — their long lifespan is often attributed to this.
They are one of the oldest creatures to be found
The first turtles existed 200 million years ago alongside dinosaurs!
Why We Love World Turtle Day
It’s socially responsible
We inhabit the planet with countless different creatures. World Turtle Day reminds us to be respectful of the ecological balance and sensitive to our animal friends.
It promises a better future
World Turtle Day promises a better future where humans and turtles can coexist peacefully. Protecting these animals means protecting our own future.
A special day for animal lovers
Animal lovers look forward to this day to do their bit for the conservation of turtles and tortoises. It’s a great day to volunteer, raise awareness, and donate.
World Turtle Day dates