Zoo Knoxville recognizes World Turtle Day

Tina RolenEast Knox, Our Town Outdoors

In the fall of 2021, Zoo Knoxville acquired eight box turtles that were confiscated by federal officials at an airport in New York City. These turtles were just part of larger confiscation, all of which were sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partner facilities for rehabilitation.


As we recognized World Turtle Day on May 23, nearly half of the world’s freshwater turtles and tortoises are at risk of extinction, and trafficking has been a leading cause. Even species that can be found right here in Tennessee are often illegally captured and sold to markets overseas to be used as pets.

Zoo Knoxville partners with the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and the Turtle Survival Alliance. We are founding members of the North American Turtle SAFE and the Radiated Tortoise SAFE programs (Saving Animals from Extinction). These programs work to protect threatened animals and establish recovery plans

There are several ways you can join Zoo Knoxville and our partners in the fight to end illegal wildlife trafficking:

  1. Become a Member of Zoo Knoxville: By becoming a member, you have access to a wildly fun time, and you contribute to the species saving work being done by our team each day.
  2. Be Informed/Buy Informed: If we don’t buy it, they will stop selling it! Follow this link for details:
  3. Report Suspicious Activity: If you suspect someone is illegally collecting or selling wild turtles, call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s tip line (1–844-FWS-TIPS).

Check out this video of the turtles in Zoo Knoxville’s care:

For more info on becoming a member at Zoo Knoxville, go here.

Tina Rolen is director of marketing and communications at Zoo Knoxville.

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