Shell-ebrate these turtle-y awesome reptiles on Thursday, May 23

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrating World Turtle Day on Thursday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is presented locally by Bob Moore Subaru and features a special scavenger safari, bio-facts, two keeper connections plus a presentation from Josh Lucas, lead herpetology caretaker, about his radiated tortoise rescue mission to Madagascar. All animal days are free to the public with Zoo admission. These global events bring attention to how individuals can help conserve and protect endangered species. 

Turtles are one of the most endangered vertebrates on the planet. Over 50% of all turtles are endangered or critically endangered. The OKC Zoo is home to 18 vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered species of turtles. The World Turtle Day scavenger safari (for kids 11 and under) asks participants to find six species of turtles at the Zoo and correctly determine their conservation status using the information posted at their habitats. After finishing the scavenger safari card, take it to Guest Services in the entry plaza and, if all the statuses of all six species are correct, participants will receive a prize!

Turtle fans can learn more about these awesome reptiles on World Turtle Day at the OKC Zoo. The Zoo’s turtle experts will be hosting keeper chats at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Galapagos tortoise habitat. Plus, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., an information station staffed by herpetology caretakers outside the Herpetarium across from the flamingo habitat and will feature turtle bio-facts and games. Josh Lucas, lead herpetology caretaker, will host a presentation about his year-long effort to save 10,000 rescued radiated tortoises found abandoned in Madagascar at the Rosser Conservation Education Center auditorium at 12 p.m. The presentation will be followed by a Q & A. It is free to the public and Zoo admission is not required to attend.

Eight Awesome Turtle Facts

  1. Turtles cannot leave their shells. Turtle shells are made up of many bones including their rib cage.
  2. With some turtle species, the temperature of the egg during incubation will determine the gender. For example, lower temperatures will lead to males, while higher temperatures will produce females.
  3. Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in North America.
  4. A leatherback sea turtle, weighing in at 2,016 pounds and 9 feet tall, is the largest turtle ever recorded. The smallest species of turtle in the world is the speckled padloper tortoise.
  5. A tortoise is a turtle, but a turtle is not a tortoise! Tortoises are turtles that are adapted to live on land, while turtles spend the majority of their time in water.
  6. Turtles do not have teeth! Many are born with an “egg tooth,” however, which helps them to break open their shell. Afterward, it falls off!
  7. A group of tortoises is called a creep.
  8. The OKC Zoo is home to four of the five largest species of tortoises in the world.

The Zoo is a member of the Turtle Survival Alliance and actively supports the organization’s goal of zero turtle extinctions. In addition to leading the rescue operation in Madagascar, the TSA works in turtle hotspots in Belize, Columbia, Madagascar, India, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Efforts are specific to the area, the local issues, and the turtle species. TSA has also established the Turtle Survival Center, a large breeding center in South Carolina. The center is home to 600 turtles representing 32 of the world’s most critically endangered species.

“Scute” to the OKC Zoo on World Turtle Day to support the shelled species of the planet! Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the Oklahoma City Zoo is an Adventure Road partner and a member of Oklahoma City’s Adventure District. The Zoo proudly holds accreditations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the American Association of Museums. Guests are welcome daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with exhibit buildings closing at 4:45 p.m. Stay connected to the world of wild! Find the Zoo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and visit the blog. To learn more, call (405) 424-3344 or visit