Today, Parks Canada released 50 headstarted endangered Blanding’s turtles, raised in the Toronto Zoo, back into their native home in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site at Maitland Bridge.
These 50 turtles have become quite experienced travelers during their young lives. They were collected as eggs from Keji and then incubated and hatched at Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford. From there, they were driven to the Toronto Zoo where they were raised for almost two years with wonderful care. Next, they came back to the Maritimes and over to Prince Edward Island where the Atlantic Veterinary College - University of Prince Edward Island determined the gender of the turtles. Now they have returned to Nova Scotia and are ready to handle the wilds of Kejimkujik.
The released turtles are graduates of the captive rearing program, a key feature of the Blanding’s turtle recovery program. Turtles raised for two years in captivity are equal in size to five-year-old wild turtles when they are returned to the wild – about the size of your average smart phone. This increased size greatly increases the turtles’ chances of survival and can lead to increasing the population of turtles at Keji. Blanding's turtles are medium-sized freshwater turtles that occur in small pockets in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia.
Research shows that too few Blanding’s turtle young survive each year for the population to continue the for the long term. Therefore, Parks Canada works in collaboration with Acadia University, Oaklawn Farm Zoo, Toronto Zoo, Atlantic Veterinary College - University of Prince Edward Island, the Recovery Team and other partners to protect and increase the population of the Blanding’s turtle in Nova Scotia. They have worked collaboratively to develop techniques to successfully incubate and hatch the eggs, and rear the young turtles until their release back in to the wild.
Parks Canada and its partners have a proven track record of effective recovery for species at risk in national parks. To learn more about species at risk at Kejimkujik NP and NHS please visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca/keji .