New TSA Captive Breeding Facility

by Heather Lowe 

In response to the magnitude of the turtle extinction crisis, the TSA was founded on the belief that some critically endangered species would not survive without long-term captive assurance colonies.  Historically, the TSA’s assurance colonies have been spread over multiple locations as a hedge against a disease outbreak, fire, or other disaster wiping out the entire colony.  seashole_resizeAlthough this policy will continue, we have long recognized the need for a dedicated center to serve as a focal point for our living collections.

Sam Seashole, DVM, has offered to sell a wonderful property to TSA which we believe is ideal for our dedicated center.  This 50-acre property is located in South Carolina, where the climate is moderate coastal lowland, with mostly warm sunny days and occasional overnight freezes in the winter.  The site climate is comparable to a number of the areas in Asia where many of our target species are found, and at least 12 of the top 25 most endangered chelonian species should thrive outdoors at the site.

quarantine_resizeThe property, originally developed primarily for crocodilians, already has much of the infrastructure and equipment required for a successful turtle and tortoise breeding operation, with fenced ponds, pastures, and other outdoor enclosures.  It also has a modern, fully-equipped veterinary facility designed for wildlife rescue which is perfect for treating animals confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade and for training vets from the U.S. and abroad in the latest techniques for turtle veterinary care.  The facility provides significant opportunities for expansion, with only four acres currently developed.  Sam wants to do something significant for turtle conservation and, for that reason, he is offering the property to the TSA at much less than its market price.

DSC00395With this property, we will develop a world-class Turtle Survival Center (TSC) with assurance colonies for critically endangered chelonians that depend on captive management for their survival.  The TSC can also be used to handle confiscations and rescues as well as to stage reintroduction efforts from captive bred offspring.  Utilizing fenced outdoor enclosures, ponds, and greenhouses, the TSC will provide high-quality animal care with world class veterinary support.  With member, student and volunteer involvement, the TSC will become a hub of our captive breeding activity.  Eventually, we plan to host student projects in collaboration with academic institutions.  The TSC will transform the development of the TSA and turtle conservation.

SO HOW CAN I HELP? This is a question that we get a lot at the TSA – and it’s one of the reasons that we’re so excited about the opportunities presented by this facility.  We’ll have a lot more opportunities for you to help!  Here are just a few examples:

  • HELP US WIN A TRUCK! Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program will be awarding 100 vehicles to 100 nonprofits over the course of 100 days based on votes from the public.  A total of 500 nonprofits were selected for the contest.  We are hoping to win a new Toyota Tundra to help us do the heavy lifting that will be required for the TSC.  Tell your friends and vote for the TSA at www.100carsforgood.com on May 18
  • DONATE! A major capital campaign will be launched in the near future to not only fund the purchase of the property, but also operating and renovation costs.  If you would like to help us with this campaign, either by making an early donation or by volunteering your help in other ways, please call 817/759-7262.
  • GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY! Volunteer opportunities will be available in the fall at the facility as we start to get the property into shape and ‘turtle ready’.  Weekend volunteer trips will present a great opportunity to pitch in for turtle conservation, while also meeting other turtle enthusiasts from near and far.

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