Tulsa turtle not infertile

Wednesday, January 11th 2006, 10:01 am
By: News On 6

Vietnamese Leaf Turtles are on the endangered list. One of the newest babies of this highly endangered species probably shouldn't exist.

Its mother, believed to be infertile, was shipped to Oregon, from Tulsa, to be part of a turtle exhibit, but as News on 6 reporter Rick Wells, that infertile turtle was anything but.

Betsy Olsen is a zookeeper at the Tulsa Zoo. She works with the reptiles. Her first love is turtles. She has a collection of Vietnamese Leaf Turtles at home. Likes them because they are interesting to look at and fun to watch. "These leaf turtles eat basically anything that moves."

They are on the endangered list and most adult Leaf Turtles are involved in a breeding program to increase the numbers so when the Oregon Coast Aquarium called looking for turtles for a special exhibit, Betsy offered a pair of her own. "The reason I thought I could send mine from home is cause I had that pair that had never done anything." Breeding wise, she means.

Besty figured the turtle was infertile. Surprise, this is a photo of her pair and a baby they hatched after they arrived out west. "They liked Oregon." I guess they did.

The turtles are a delicacy in Asia and are being eaten into extinction, that's why they've been added to the endangered list. So every new hatchling is important. They grow very slowly and another one at the Tulsa Zoo is a year old, so it will be a while before it will be added to the exhibit.

Whatever happened between her turtles on the trip to Oregon, it worked because her collection is now bigger. "I sent two out and I'm getting three back." Congratulations.

The turtle exhibit in Oregon will last a year. So Betsy should have her original two turtles and their baby back home in Tulsa in June.

[photo courtesy of Oregon Coast Aquarium]