Peter Pritchard: Larger Than Life

“Our collective hearts reach out to the Pritchard family on this day of sad news. It’s hard to avoid hyperbole when speaking of Peter. He truly was a “giant” in the field of turtle biology and conservation. For so many, Peter was a trusted mentor and generous friend. He served as a source of inspiration, showing us all new ways to do conservation.

As an undergrad, I recall telling friends, “I am going to work for that man if I have to mow his lawn.” I couldn’t have imagined the next 20 years. Peter provided me an opportunity to live and work at the Chelonian Research Institute prior to grad school, and wrote a letter to help me follow in his footsteps at the University of Florida. The education and memories I received at the CRI were every bit as critical as what I learned while working on my Ph.D. In fact, I came back to the CRI many times while working on my dissertation to utilize the collections, library, and fully immerse myself in his turtle world. Peter and Sibille always treated their visitors as esteemed guests, and, for me, it felt like family.

A few years ago I had the privilege of honoring Peter through a talk at the TSA / IUCN-TFTSG Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in New Orleans entitled, “Larger than Life: Peter Pritchard’s Influence and Legacy.” I hope we all take time to reflect on Peter’s contributions. May his legacy encourage us all to do more.”

– Dr. Ben Atkinson, Flagler College

Read more from the Orlando Sentinal HERE.


  1. pat kite on March 11, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    sounds like a great person

  2. Aurele Anquetil ANDRE on March 12, 2020 at 1:25 am

    An enormous lost for the conversation and protection of the Chelonians, an inspiration and a huge motivation for all of us to follow in his footsteps.

    Francois Leguat Reserve
    Anse Quitor
    Rodrigues Island
    Republic of Mauritius

  3. Rich Seigel on March 12, 2020 at 2:52 am

    I was fortunate enough to have Peter as a member of my thesis committee when I was a grad student at the University of Central Florida in the late 1970’s Even better, my apartment the last 2 years at UCF was walking distance from Peter’s house and his live turtle collection. One of my greatest memories was when Peter asked me to take care of his turtles for a week while he was away. The number of rolls of films I burned that week was really impressive!

    Most importantly, Peter was a constant source of encouragement, understanding, and knowledge throughout my graduate program. He was a true scholar and a gentlemen, in all the best ways. His presence in the turtle conservation community was be sorely missed.

  4. Jack Stout, Professor Emeritus, University of Central Florida on March 12, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    Peter’s science tent included themes beyond turtles. The fall of 1973 , a remarkable group of Florida scholars met in the Ocala National Forest to organize the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Species. Peter was an important part of that meeting and went on to be series editor (along with Don Wood) for volumes on the vertebrates and plants. The fall of 1976 , I found myself in the first formal meeting on the Florida panther with Peter being the energy behind the session. Peter and Roy McBride stand out in my memories of the meeting. All of this and much more from the “turtle” guy.

  5. Michael Ebersold on April 17, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Are your shirts made in the USA?

  6. R J Rao on May 23, 2020 at 6:15 am

    I still remember the day when I met Peter at my study area in National Chambal Sanctuary, India. He was such a motivator helped me to develop my career as turtle biologist. I met him in May 2018 at his residence and we had a good lunch.
    It is a sad news for me and today’s Turtle Day talk to our University students will be a Tribute to Peter.

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