Recently, Dr. Steven Whitfield from the Zoo's conservation team released four Gopher Tortoises at a safe translocation site, where they will join a small resident tortoise population. These four tortoises came from the South Florida Wildlife Center, who cares for tortoises that have been injured or displaced by people. Normally, Gopher Tortoises have an established home range, with a number of cozy burrows of their own, and a social network of tortoises that they interact with regularly. Moving tortoises to a new site is very disruptive to their lives, but is some times a necessary conservation measure. The Zoo will continue monitoring these tortoises using radio-telemetry to ensure their health and well-being. You can help Gopher Tortoises by leaving them where they are found, and by reporting their locations to FWC's Gopher Tortoise reporting website.
Tortoise 384 was reported to Florida Fish and Wildlife after a homeowner saw an unknown person dump the tortoise on their front lawn then drive away. People often illegally collect tortoises from the wild, then drop them off when they realize they cannot care for a wild animal that can live for up to 80 years.
Tortoise 419 was found floating in the Intercoastal Waterway in Dania Beach, likely because someone believed it was a sea turtle and tried to help it by placing it in the ocean. Gopher Tortoises, like all tortoises, are land turtles, and should never be placed in water bodies.
Tortoise 417 was found by a family crossing the road while on a trip. They moved him off the road (which is a good thing), but decided to take him to their home, hundreds of miles away. Eventually they gave the tortoise to the South Florida Wildlife Center for proper care.
Tortoise 358 was injured by an auto collision, and it was determined that the suburban area where the tortoise was found isn't safe in the long term. Please drive safely if you're in an area where tortoises live.