Animals for Conservation Education

9:00am - Our fieldwork is now complete and I fly back to Connecticut this afternoon. It has been a very busy and productive week. As I leave, I get a chance to reminisce about my career. A few such memories include live animals. I worked in zoos, museums, and aquariums for many years with a focus on animal husbandry and education. George has two animals that I bred in captivity long ago that he has been using for his education programs. I am proud to have had a small part in educating hundreds of children about animals, ecology, and conservation.

The snake pictured below is a Florida pine snake I bred and hatched out in 1994 while at the Central Florida Zoo. This specimen is now 22 years old and still used for educational programming.

A large, handsome Florida pine snake. 

A large, handsome Florida pine snake. 

This large turtle is an alligator snapping turtle and was captive bred and hatched in 1998 when I was a herpetologist with the Tennessee Aquarium. It's father was 160 pounds and its mother was 45 pounds. This specimen is a female at around 30 pounds and 18 years old. Children and adults are amazed, intrigued, and sometimes terrified of this animal when it is brought to education programs.

An imposing alligator snapping turtle. 

An imposing alligator snapping turtle. 

Hatchling alligator snapping turtles. Photograph by Carl Franklin. 

Hatchling alligator snapping turtles. Photograph by Carl Franklin. 

The Florida box turtle below was the first turtle I had ever hatched out. It hatched April 6th, 1991. I still have the note card I wrote back then with the egg laying, incubation, and hatching information. This animal has been on loan to the Orlando Science Center since 1996 and probably hundreds of thousands of people have viewed it and enjoyed programming with it. 

A very special, 25 year old Florida box turtle. 

A very special, 25 year old Florida box turtle. 

The same specimen above at about six months of age. 

The same specimen above at about six months of age. 

My original notes on the box turtle above. 

My original notes on the box turtle above. 

Tim Walsh - Manager of Natural History Collections and Citizen Science