Outreach & Education Program
Education is key to conservation.”In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand”. People need to be informed about the issues before they can be motivated to take action, whether it be within their own abilities or lobbying others for change. One person CAN make a difference, whatever their age. After all, OTCC started due to the efforts of a few children. If we all do our part to spread the word and to do what we can ourselves, we can turn the tide for turtles.
We address many avenues of education; we target all audiences and have specific presentations for each different group, whether they be kindergarten children, or University biology students, veterinary students or a cottagers group.
In 2012, we reached over 12000 people with our conservation message. Our dynamic and passionate education team travelled across the province to spread the word and inspire.
In addition to the general public, we also conduct very specialized workshops for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and wildlife rehabilitators, covering all aspects of turtle trauma. These have taken place from Haileybury, to Niagara, and from Peterborough, King City and Toronto. We have helped many rehabilitation centres, private veterinary clinics, shelters and veterinary emergency clinics to start treating turtles, or advance their skills. The more facilities willing to see and treat turtles, the more will be saved! We currently have over 12 centres across the province that will see turtles on an emergency basis, to start their treatment. This makes sure they get timely care until they can be transferred to us for further surgery or treatment.
We are very excited to be able to offer a 1000 square foot education centre at our new facility. This centre will include the new home of our nonreleasable education turtles (snapping turtle, Blanding’s turtles, painted turtles, musk turtles, and map turtle) as well as interactive displays for adults and children. In addition, there will be behind-the-scenes viewing of our new hospital and rehabilitation centre, including the new babies! We will now be able to conduct education programs on-site, and will be able to book group programs. Stay tuned – and come and join us! We will also offer a retail area, for those discriminating turtle lovers.
The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to help injured animals recover so they can be returned to the wild. But sometimes an animal’s injuries are too severe. The OTCC houses a handful of resident “non-releasable” turtles. These animals help us teach people about turtles, and inspire them to take action to lend a hand to these animals in need.
Paddy is a handsome 29-year-old male snapping turtle that was admitted to OTCC on May 27, 2012. He was purchased at a pet store as a hatchling 29 years ago! His adopted family was unaware that it is illegal to keep a native Ontario turtle as a pet. It was by chance that the family was at a OTCC outreach event in Ottawa. Following the presentation, they approached the staff member to explain his situation. It was a heartbreaking decision to make, but they decided it would be in Paddy’s best interest to surrender him. Paddy now accompanies us to all outreach events where he acts as an ambassador for his species to help dispel the many myths associated with snapping turtles! We could not have picked a better representative for this misunderstood species.
Blandella was gravid (carrying eggs) when she was hit by a car. She suffered severe injuries to her hind end and has never laid her eggs. These injuries have affected her ability to swim. She would have difficulty with normal behaviours – such as finding food, mating, and escaping predators – in the wild.
Andrea, another Blanding’s Turtle, was also hit by a car. She lost one eye and is almost blind in the other. She would not be able to survive in the wild with this much vision loss.