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Thread: Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

  1. #1
    Junior Member MrsSnape's Avatar
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    Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    First and foremost, let me apologize for posting a blank message. I had a problem uploading my image, and when I clicked "edit" to repost, the image option was gone, but I couldn't erase the post either. Sorry.

    ANYWAY...

    Hello all -- I wanted to ask some questions regarding the advisability of releasing a captive turtle into a pond in Central Park.

    Before you get too angry, please let me explain that I am not looking to "get rid of," or "dump off" my pet. I am just unsure of what would be best for her.

    I adopted my Red-Eared Slider almost exactly a year ago. She was a "Chinatown turtle," being sold on a New York City streetcorner alongside about 200 of her brothers and sisters. Because I seem to have a problem with adopting down-on-their-luck animals, and because I was drunk that day, I paid $5 for her and brought her home.

    Before you get too outraged at my lack of gravity for the situation and commitment to the animal, please let me add that I had Red-Eared Sliders as a child and therefore am fairly experienced with them.

    I bought a nice roomy tank, a heat lamp, and proper food, and Pearl the turtle and I have since coexisted peacefully in my tiny Manhattan apartment. At a year old, her carapace is 5", hard and lustrous.

    So, what's the problem, you say? Well, I spend a lot of time in that lovely urban oasis known as Central Park, where there are 5 absolutely GORGEOUS ponds of varying sizes. There are turtles in all of the ponds, but one pond in particular is inhabited by around 100 turtles (Sliders, Box Turtles, Painted Turtles, and even a couple of Snapping Turtles) and is aptly named "Turtle Pond." Most of these turtles used to be pets, and were dumped off by their owners when they got tired of them.

    I always thought it was too risky to release a turtle into a wild setting when it has been raised in captivity. But while I was at the pond last weekend, I met a turtle enthusiast who also spends a lot of time in Central Park and at Turtle Pond. He said that he has been observing and tracking the turtles for years, and he assured me that while some do die, the vast majority survive and thrive -- not only in Turtle Pond, but also in the other aforementioned large ponds in Central Park.

    I have no doubt in my mind that Pearl the Red-Eared Slider would be immeasurably happier living in a breathtakingly lovely, Eden-esque public park. I have enclosed a picture of Turtle Pond, so you can see how beautiful it is (if you zoom in on the pic, you can see the turtles basking on the rocks, on the right-hand side).

    But, is it safe? I'd like to believe Mr. Turtle Enthusiast, but he's only one man -- for all I know, he might be full of s***.

    While happiness is important, physical health and safety are arguably more important. Would I be handing her a death sentence, in exchange for a few months of life in a pretty place? Would she be better off in a glass tank that gets dirty once a week, on a small cluttered table in an cramped apartment -- safe, but arguably unfullfilled? Or would she be better off fending for herself in a natural setting?

    Whatever I do, I'm certainly not rushing into anything. I have one year to solve this dilemma, since right now Pearl is smaller than the other turtles in the pond, most of whom have a carapace of at least 7" or 8". So if I were to do this, I would wait until next summer when she's significantly bigger.

    I wish she could just tell me herself what she would prefer, but she can't. Anyone have any words of wisdom for me?

    Furthermore (assuming that releasing her WOULD be a good idea), is there any safe way of tagging her, so that I can come back and check on her?
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  2. #2
    Administrator jacqturtle's Avatar
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    Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    Would she be happier? Loaded question there. :laugh: I think all wild animals are "happier" when released back into the wild. That said, I still vote no to doing it.

    I am understanding she was just a hatchling when you got her? So she has no experience in the dangerous world of wild life. Yes she would still have her natural instincts, but they have been watered down. An example is, she thinks of people as food machines. She would be a prime one to come close enough to get snagged perhaps by somebody wanting to make free turtle soup. Yes it's illegal to hunt/fish them there, but we know how well laws are followed. Speaking of which, you may break the law by dumping her.

    Think of the other turtles. She may be healthy and still be carrying a disease, which could kill other animals. Or vise versa and she might die too.

    Life in the wild can be cruel and short, it's not all endless days of basking, swimming around and food a plenty. With large numbers of turtles the food supply may be limited too.

    Another major thing to think about, if this is a female, does the pond need new clutches of hatchlings? IF the babies are not caught by cruel folks before making it to the pond or simply folks not knowing (or caring) how to raise these animals.

    I vote no. Sounds like your giving her a wonderful life now. A free, easy life with nothing to harm her. In the end, you must listen to your heart and do what you think best.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ithica's Avatar
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    Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    Ok not be a party pooper but this is THE reason laws are being passed everyday hindering our rights to own animals in general. I'm sure the person who released the first Burmese Python thought the same thing. Red Eared sliders a huge reason we have strict laws. Do some research on the affects releasing these turtles has had on enviroments and how it has affected our rights. I respect your concern but I can not respect a release of an animal. I could understand maybe if you caught her there and you are releasing her but not this way. If you are really concerned about her welfare than find a loving home with someone that can provide love as you have. For what it is worth I say don't release her.

    Dave

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ithica's Avatar
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    Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    Sorry...
    On a side note be sure to view federal, state, and local laws because there are laws in affect against releasing animals so if you get caught there may be a fine.

    Dave

  5. #5
    Junior Member MrsSnape's Avatar
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    Re:Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    Yes, she was a hatchling when I got her. About the size of a silver dollar. Forgot to be clear on that.

    Exchange of disease, unchecked breeding, and insufficient food supply and/or foraging instincts were in fact the things I was most worried about. I guess I got caught up in a turtle fantasy of green grasses, warm, dry rocks, and regular twice-a-day feedings. I suppose it must be true that some of the dumped-off pet turtles do survive, possibly even thrive, but I couldn't guarantee that my turtle would be one of them. Especially since she's lived her whole life in a tank.

    I have asked several different people for advice on this topic already, and have received several different answers. But you guys seem the most knowledgeable and have helped me come to my senses. Pearl the Slider will stay with me. I would have missed her anyway. So, thank you.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Ithica's Avatar
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    Re:Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    Great choice. I wish you the best and you are very welcome.

  7. #7
    Administrator jacqturtle's Avatar
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    Re:Releasing a Red-Eared Slider into a Park

    Exactly what Ithica said.

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