Chelonians from Some Michigan Zoos

Oxalis

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Just recently went through some photos and noticed I'm always getting photos of the turtles and tortoises at the zoos we visit. I figured I'd share if anyone ever visits some of these Michigan zoos. I've included a link to each of the facilities if you're interested. Apologies for the many blurry pictures.

Here's a redfoot at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids from earlier this month. They also had a Sulcata in another enclosure. This was the first time I visited this zoo. I have to say I was a little bit disappointed by some of the enclosures at this zoo. I understand the need for visitors to actually be able to observe the animals as well as the cost to renovate old enclosures, but some of the spaces seemed way too small for the animals in them and more than once I noticed the animals were within arm's reach from visitors. I had to yell at a child who tried to yank out flamingo feathers through a fence (her mother was distracted by her cell phone—we yelled at her too).

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One of the Aldabra torts grazing at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto, earlier this month. This was my first visit and I had no idea this place was there! It looked like there was a second Aldabra and maybe a Sulcata in their house, but it was difficult to see into. The enclosure fence is short enough for a human to walk right over. They appeared to be doing some construction when we visited, so hopefully there will be more to see next time, since there were some animals listed on their website that I don't remember seeing. I did get to pet a baby yak though!

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Torts and a crocodilian competing for some heat lamp space. I love a good turtle stack.

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Al the Aldabra tort at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, October 2020. He's lived at the zoo since 1984 and weighs around 550 lbs. A couple years ago when we visited, he was suffering from myelitis and had an IV tube installed. He seems to have fully recovered (we didn't see the tube on this visit) and I can't wait to see him again this season. Maybe we'll actually see him outdoors this time (we usually visit in cooler weather). And if you've never been, I recommend the .8-mile walk from the main part of the zoo to the "Wild Africa" area. If you're able to walk it, it's worth skipping the tram ride and taking in the forest.

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An adorable redfoot at The Creature Conservancy in Ann Arbor, January 2020. They partner with Jack Hanna and the Columbus Zoo, so you can expect to learn more animal biology and ask all those really challenging questions that just confuse the typical zoo employee. Their staff gets a lot of hands-on experience and gets to know the animals personally, so they're always ready to geek out about their favorite animal. They usually feature a different animal each month, so when you visit on weekends, they'll do a presentation where they discuss just about everything about that animal. I highly recommend.

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Their signage gets better every time we visit. They always seem to be upgrading and expanding as well. Since so many more people have found this place, it has gotten a lot busier. Sometimes I miss the days when it was still relatively unknown.

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The Aldabras and Sulcata sleeping (in their winter enclosure) since we visited in the evening. They have a rather nice grass area to graze on in the warmer months.

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Here's a sign that more zoos (and pet stores) really need!!

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Some of their turtles, which I think are mostly Michigan species:

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Their snapper:

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wellington

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Thanks for sharing
I think it stinks though when a zoo does so bad.
Species should not be mixed and humans should not be able to touch an animal without zoo supervision and enclosures should be safe from people throwing things into their enclosures
They also should be able to do better then a kiddie pool for a pond.
 

Oxalis

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Thanks for sharing
I think it stinks though when a zoo does so bad.
Species should not be mixed and humans should not be able to touch an animal without zoo supervision and enclosures should be safe from people throwing things into their enclosures
They also should be able to do better then a kiddie pool for a pond.
Terribly sad. A parade of everything NOT to do.
There's definitely a lot to learn from these facilities, especially as we design our own tortoise enclosures. I think my Russian definitely has it made with his new outdoor enclosure in comparison (484 square feet). I was just extremely disappointed at Ball Zoo especially because they've been around since before 1900, and the only employees I saw around the grounds were either manning the zipline or monitoring the kangaroos. I'm sure they had put a hold on "zookeeper talks" (because of COVID), but it was as though none of the other animals demanded any attention or security. That was not what I witnessed though, so I'll be sending them an email about it.

I think there's a lot more zoos can do right now to simply educate the public on tortoises (as well as other animals). There's so much misinformation. We've all been asked the same questions about our animals: how long the live, how big they'll get, etc. While you can't force visitors to read these signs, it would be better than nothing.
 

Tom

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There's definitely a lot to learn from these facilities, especially as we design our own tortoise enclosures. I think my Russian definitely has it made with his new outdoor enclosure in comparison (484 square feet). I was just extremely disappointed at Ball Zoo especially because they've been around since before 1900, and the only employees I saw around the grounds were either manning the zipline or monitoring the kangaroos. I'm sure they had put a hold on "zookeeper talks" (because of COVID), but it was as though none of the other animals demanded any attention or security. That was not what I witnessed though, so I'll be sending them an email about it.

I think there's a lot more zoos can do right now to simply educate the public on tortoises (as well as other animals). There's so much misinformation. We've all been asked the same questions about our animals: how long the live, how big they'll get, etc. While you can't force visitors to read these signs, it would be better than nothing.
Many people think that zoos and vets know all about these animals and take great care of them. Its sort of a "red pill" women when a person realizes that they don't. They do the wrong things and set a terrible example.
 
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