Dr. Shannon DiRuzzo & Dr. Peter Praschag
Our daily work concentrates on caring for the turtles' wellbeing and their reproduction. Using scientific procedures, we acquire knowledge that can directly be adapted for wild turtle populations.
In the long run, Turtle Island's goal is to create assurance colonies and reintroduce these captive-bred individuals back to their countries of origin. This will be achieved with the help of awareness campaigns in those countries, and long-term financial support for the conservation breeding center in Graz.
Together with our international network of partner organisations and supporters, we are working on saving the most endangered vertebrate group on our planet - turtles. Our team consists of a large number of experts who deal with all topics related to conservation as well as protection of endangered turtles.
Only the tireless efforts of the entire scientific team and animal keepers, as well as with the help of volunteers, can make the breeding of these rare species possible. Turtle Island has been contributing to the long term survival of some critically endangered turtle species.
Our mission foremost is to protect endangered turtle species from extinction by maintaining assurance colonies, rescuing, nursing them and encouraging reproduction. Our quest is to supervise and start in-situ projects as well as to create breeding networks between Zoological institutions and private animal keepers.
Additionally, we educate and consult people who own turtles, to ensure appropriate and species-related caregiving.
Furthermore, we call attention to the importance of environmental protection and raise awareness to protect wildlife.
Our main goal is to establish a zoological institution, a "lighthouse" for endangered species and their conservation. Our project combines ex-situ (outside their natural habitat) conservation measures for highly endangered species with in-situ (inside their habitat) measures such as habitat protection, research initiatives in the natural habitat and reintroduction projects.
For species with very few survivors remaining, assembling breeding groups in human care is the only chance to preserve the species for the future.
In particular, we want to focus on highly endangered species that are still "under the radar" of the attention of conservation organisations and the public. Also, new methods of genetics give us better insights into the population structures of many species and bring with them the need to take conservation measures very quickly.
With 240 different turtle taxa, Turtle Island is already the most species-rich turtle ark in the world. Of the 50 most endangered turtle species, we care for 37 and breed 35 of them.
Of the 2500 animals at four different locations, 800 belong to the 2 most endangered genera (Batagur & Cuora). With 20 first-described turtle species and subspecies, we have made a significant contribution to the understanding of the diversity of turtles.
Our genetic studies provide a good basis for all conservation measures of the species complexes studied.