WATCH: Leon Loving the Sanctuary Life in Honor of World Turtle Day

WATCH: Leon Loving the Sanctuary Life in Honor of World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day, on May 23, was started by American Tortoise Rescue in 2000 to encourage people to honor turtles and protect them and their threatened habitats around the world. Watch the heartwarming story of Leon, a red-eared slider turtle who endured improper conditions and neglect, but is now enjoying the pond life at a sanctuary in Arizona.

Leon’s unfortunate situation may sound all too familiar to you. He belonged to a child who lost interest in him. The family did not step in and care for the turtle, as all adults must be ready to do for a child or anyone in their care who is unable or unwilling to provide proper care for their animal companion.

Due to improper diet, lack of UV light, and no ability to bask, Leon's shell was in poor condition and he was also suffering from a fungal infection. 

This is the depressing way Leon lived at one of his prior homes before being rescued.

Leon was then given to the child’s biology teacher. She improved his care and had him treated by a veterinarian. He spent five years as a classroom “pet,” but when the pandemic hit, she left the classroom and Leon was passed on to another family. The teacher hoped he would have a better life, but after a few years, they didn’t want him anymore. 

Leon ended up back with the biology teacher. She was determined to find the very best life for this turtle who deserved so much better than life in a crummy tank. In April 2023, she arranged a wonderful new forever home for him.

Leon went to live at Desert Oasis Turtle & Tortoise Sanctuary (DOTTS). This turtle who was denied natural sunlight and space for so long now lives in the sunshine and fresh air in a spacious pond with other turtles. 

Red-eared sliders are the most common “pet” turtle in the U.S. People get them when they are tiny, but as they grow, many don’t provide a bigger tank. Essential tank and water maintenance is often skipped, so the water gets nasty and smelly without filtration and periodic water changes. 

Since kids tend to lose interest over time, red-eared sliders are often dumped in public lakes, ponds, and other waterways. Because these turtles have not adapted as a part of these habitats, they can upset the ecological balance. Turtles released into the wild face human persecution as a result, as well as other life-threatening hazards like traffic and predation.

What YOU Can Do

Here’s how you can help turtles! 

  • Do not buy turtles from pet stores, which encourages demand from the wild or from breeders, because there are so many in need of rescue. Adopt, don't shop applies to turtles too!
  • Before you consider adopting a turtle, make sure to do your research on proper care. Be prepared for the long-haul because a red-eared slider can live for 40 years.
  • Never dump captive turtles in public waterways or remove turtles from the wild unless they are injured. Red-eared sliders belong in ponds like the ones at DOTTS.
  • Act now to stop the cruel racing of turtles in the name of entertainment.
  • Consider making a donation to support our lifesaving work for turtles and all animals.

Find out more about World Turtle Day.

You can support our work by donating