Game and Fish to host tortoise adoption workshop in Yuma

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October 14th, 2008

Volunteers available to help applicants build an enclosure and den

Having trouble with Fido running away? Is it hard to find the time to care for a dog or cat when you are tied up with work and family all day? If so, consider adopting a desert tortoise. Come learn about these fascinating animals at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s tortoise adoption workshop in Yuma on Saturday, Oct. 18.

Desert TortoiseDesert tortoises offer a unique alternative to more traditional family pets, but can teach many of the same life lessons to children, including responsibility, compassion and commitment. Tortoises also make a great teaching tool for educators that have an outdoor habitat at their school.

“The department is pleased to be able to offer interested applicants expert volunteers to help them construct a proper enclosure and den,” says Catherine Pederson of the Game and Fish’s Yuma office. “People frequently express an interest in adopting a tortoise, but sometimes they don’t know how to get started. For the first time, volunteers will help make the process easier.”

The adoption fair will be held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife building at 9300 E. 28th St. in Yuma from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tortoise experts will be on hand to answer questions about care, and examples of proper outdoor enclosures will be displayed.

The department encourages those interested in sharing their yard with a tortoise to bring a completed application form and photos of their enclosure to the workshop. Enclosure specifications and application forms can be downloaded at www.azgfd.gov/tortoise. Prospective adopters can also start the application process at the workshop if their application requirements are not yet complete.

Desert tortoises can live as long as 50 to 100 years. They grow to be about 15 pounds and hibernate in the winter months. They eat plant material, including grasses, wildflowers and native cactus fruits. Once captive, desert tortoises cannot be released back into the wild. Captive animals can pass a dangerous upper respiratory disease to wild tortoise populations.

Game and Fish discourages tortoise custodians from allowing their animals to breed. Each year, there are more tortoises than there are homes for them.

Tortoises are microchipped and pass a health check before being made available for adoption. State law prohibits taking these creatures from the wild.

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