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San Diego Zoo biologists help rescue at-risk turtles from Bobcat Fire scorched habitat

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Posted at 4:30 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 19:30:35-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Zoo biologists are part of a team of researchers that have rescued the last remaining southwestern pond turtles from an area ravaged by the Bobcat Fire.

The researchers spend the last couple of weeks finding and recovering the reptiles from the San Gabriel Mountains. The area, which was scorched by the Bobcat Fire, from Sept. 6 until early November, is now at risk of mudslides and debris flows from rain, which could impact the turtles.

"Our role as conservationists is to provide refuge and care for wildlife in trouble," said Kim Gray, curator of herpetology and ichthyology, San Diego Zoo Global. "We are happy to make a home for these pond turtles until their home in the mountains can be made safe for them and their offspring."

The southwestern pond turtle is now rare in Southern California and faces risks to its survival, including habitat loss, invasive nonnative predators and competitors.

Over the two weeks, researchers rescued eight southwestern pond turtles. The turtles will be cared for at the San Diego Zoo until their habitat is made after this year’s rainy season. When their habitat is secure, they will be returned.