Adopt-A-Pond at the Toronto Zoo operates Turtle Tally and is also the provincial coordinator for the FrogWatch citizen science effort. Anyone in Ontario can submit their turtle, frog, and/or toad observations as photos or audio clips (for example, of frogs calling at a wetland). This can be done via the Adopt-A-Pond website or the free “Adopt-A-Pond” app. Each submission is verified by Adopt-A-Pond staff to ensure the accuracy of the data, and data is sent to the Natural Heritage Information Centre at the end of each year to contribute to the provincial database of species in Ontario.
Adopt-A-Pond at the Toronto Zoo has project locations ranging from the GTA to Windsor to Georgian Bay to northern Ontario. Currently, our focus is on restoring a historical population of Threatened Blanding’s Turtles in Rouge National Urban Park through “head starting”. This population had decreased to fewer than 12 individuals and was deemed functionally extirpated. To remedy this, eggs are incubated at the Toronto Zoo until they hatch, and then the young receive up to two years of captive care prior to being released into the wild. During this time, the young turtles are fed a nutritious diet and their natural behaviours are encouraged. The turtles grow to be larger than wild individuals of the same age, which give them a “head start” in life, by giving them the size and strength needed to better overcome the challenges they will face in the wild. The first batch of Blanding’s turtles was released in 2014, and annual releases have continued since, always paired with National Indigenous People’s Day to celebrate and bring awareness to the cultural significance of this species. To date, over 500 young Blanding’s turtles have been released into the Rouge River watershed. While we’re doing this important work, we are also collecting data on the other turtle species in this area!
Education, Outreach, and Stewardship
Adopt-A-Pond offers many education and outreach opportunities, ranging from classroom presentations to workshops for adults and industry professionals. While COVID-19 has presented many challenges in the way that we communicate, we have been able to successfully shift to virtual platforms for most of our education and outreach efforts. We are also able to advise on stewardship efforts like the creation of artificial turtle nesting areas, snake hibernacula, and wetland creation.
Printed Resources and Crossing Signs
Adopt-A-Pond offers printed resources in the form of laminated identification guides, posters, waterproof fold-out guides, and books that have been tried, tested, and approved by individuals, communities, professionals, and classrooms! They cover topics such as the turtles, snakes, and amphibians (egg, larval, and adult stages) of Ontario. The various formats and sizes means that there is an option that will suit everyone’s needs. We also distribute wildlife crossing signs to be put up in areas where road mortality is a threat to turtles. To inquire or place an order, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adopt-A-Pond is a grant-funded program, and as such our projects are often evolving and changing. We always love to hear from others who are interested in collaborating on existing projects, or who are interested in developing new ones. Whether you have an idea or not, please reach out to us at email@example.com to discuss collaboration opportunities.