Franklin Park Zoo is Sold Out through Friday, April 23. Stone Zoo is Sold Out through Saturday, April 24. We hope you can visit on another day!

Know Before You Go: We've modified the Zoo experience in accordance with public guidance and health recommendations. Please review our FAQs (FPZ and SZ) before your visit. Members:​ Online reservations are required for your visit.

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Spotted Turtles

Update from the Field:
The tale of Turtle #55 – thriving since 2008!


Cold weather doesn’t stop our conservation work – in fact, recent lower temps have allowed our field conservation team to go out and radiotrack turtles to their winter hibernation locations near Franklin Park Zoo. Shown here is Turtle #55, an endangered spotted turtle that was originally tracked by ZNE Assistant Curator Ed O’Brien back in 2008. Last year, she was brought to the Zoo hospital for a radiograph, which found that she was carrying eggs! One week later, Senior Field Conservationist John Berkholtz was able to find her nest and protect it. Our team is now headstarting her four babies to give them a better chance at survival upon release into their native habitat.

Our team radiotracks all tagged turtles every winter to get an idea of where they've chosen to hibernate -- but ultimately, we’re at the mercy of the weather and timing that can be very tricky. Since turtles are often in water, tracking them usually involves wading through water to get to where they are. In the summer, chest waders help to keep things mostly dry. But in the winter, if there's no ice, the water is so cold that even with waders it can be uncomfortably cold and very difficult to navigate. If there's just a little bit of ice, it's impossible to walk through the water without crashing through the ice; snow over the ice can be even more hazardous because you can't see where you're walking. The best way to track turtles in the winter is to wait until the ice is thick enough to walk on. But you never know when, or if, the weather will get cold enough to form thick ice, so despite our best efforts we may not be able to get fully accurate winter locations for the turtles every year.

We’re working to conserve the last remaining populations of the locally rare spotted turtle in Boston. These small turtles are hanging on in two urban watersheds: at Stony Brook and Fowl Meadow Reservations.

The vernal pools and marshes of the Stony Brook Reservation are home to around 20 adult spotted turtles. ZNE biologists are currently radiotracking turtles to document population demographics and understand their habitat needs. By tracking female turtles, we can also find and protect their nests—and ultimately boost this turtle’s population—by raising hatchlings in captivity until they can be released back to the wild as larger juveniles that are able to fend for themselves.

Additionally, we're seeking out the spotted turtles that still grace the wetlands of Fowl Meadow in Boston and neighboring Milton, Canton and Dedham. These wetlands may also still support a handful of Threatened Blanding’s turtles.

About the spotted turtle

Spotted turtles are small, aquatic turtles with yellow spots on their shell and head. Each turtle has a unique pattern of spots, much like a zebra's stripes, that can be used to identify individuals. If you ever spot a spotted turtle (no pun intended!) at Stony Brook, Fowl Meadow, or anywhere in the Greater Boston area, please snap a photo of it and send it to GWC@zoonewengland.org to log your observation with our scientists! 

Quarters for Conservation

We not only support conservation within our Zoo – we're passionate about using our resources to benefit wildlife across the globe. A portion of every admission ticket and membership sold is used to support wildlife conservation across the globe. Your visit today supports GWC's Spotted Turtles Project! Learn more.