Making More Friends at the TSC

by Heather Lowe 

The TSC recently hosted a number of special visitors. Consulting veterinarian Dr. Terry Norton of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was joined by Dr. Sam Rivera, Associate Veterinarian at Zoo Atlanta. The vets teamed up to perform endoscopic sexing on a group of Spider Tortoises (Pyxis a.brygooi). The doctors were assisted by Christi Hughes, a marine biologist from the South Carolina Aquarium who volunteered her time and skills to the procedure on behalf of the Aquarium. The team concluded the group of tortoises is comprised of three males and four females. Knowing the sex of the animals in the collection is imperative to the captive breeding initiatives at the TSC.

The College of Charleston's Biology Club, under the leadership of Prof. Allison Welch (Department of Biology), also recently paid a visit to the TSC. The group spent the day touring the facility and meeting with the TSC staff. We hope for future collaborations with this enthusiastic group in the form of student internships and research projects benefiting turtle conservation.

Other visitors this month include Dr. Paul Gibbons and Christine Light (Director of Animal Collections) of the Behler Chelonian Center in California. Their visit to the TSC provided an opportunity to share ideas and insights on chelonian husbandry and health care. The two were in the area attending the Association of Zoo's an Aquarium's Herpetology TAG (Taxon Advisory Group) Meetings, hosted by Zoo Atlanta. Rick Hudson (TSA President) and Cris Hagen (TSA Director of Animal Management) co- presented at the meeting on the TSA's global initiatives as well as on the latest updates on the collection at the Turtle Survival Center (TSC).

The TSC team was thrilled to present at the annual Backyard NatureScope Event. The environmental field day is hosted by Berkeley County Kids Who Care, a local non-profit aimed at educating children about the environment in which they live. The field day provides an opportunity for all the students who participate to learn from local environmental specialists and community businesses about what can be done to protect and enhance their environment.

The TSC team also participated in Charleston's 16th Annual Earth Day Festival. The event is a celebration of Charleston County's environmental community and attracts as many as 8,000 people each year. The festival provides hands-on educational opportunities for all ages and highlights the county's environmental programs.

During each outreach event, the team displayed several rare species of turtles and tortoises from the TSC as well as provided presentations on turtle conservation and the effects of commercial exploitations on wild turtle populations.