Endangered species of turtle bred at Shedd released in Cook County lake

Several endangered turtles were released into a suburban lake Wednesday, as biologists proclaimed this a "wonderful day for conservation."

Making this happen took a big team and a bit of luck.

"We're completing the circle. We were able to find an incredibly rare turtle called a Blanding's turtle that's listed as an endangered species in our state," said Chris Anchor, Wildlife Biologist, Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

That Blanding's turtle and her 11 babies now swim in a Cook County lake. It's the first time in the wild for the year-old hatchlings, who were born and raised at the Shedd Aquarium.

"If we did not artificially incubate these eggs, pretty much all of them would get eaten by predators like raccoons, possums, skunks. So us being able to rear them at the aquarium, we are able to grow them up to the size, they stand a much better size of surviving in the wild," said Doctor Matt O'Connor, Shedd Aquarium Senior Veterinarian.


The Forest Preserve and others removed invasive species from the suburban lake and got it all ready. They don't want to say exactly where this spot is, all to protect the vulnerable creatures.

"It's almost very much like dropping your kids off at school for that first day, wishing them the best of luck and hoping they do well out in the wild," said Dr. O'Connor.

They raised the turtles for this, feeding them live prey, making sure they didn't get attached to humans. Now, comes the watching and waiting.

"We'll monitor them going forward and hope that the picture 10, 15, 20 years from now will be females reproducing," said Anchor.

But back at the Shedd, they'll miss these little ones.

"We'll be empty nesters after today, which will be great, ready for the next batch of turtles to come over," said Dr. O'Connor.

All while hoping these turtles who've come out of their shell of protection are ready to thrive in the wild.