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Charles Paddock Zoo opens new Turtle Lab 


Charles Paddock Zoo
One of the zoo’s tortoises digs into a present at Charles Paddock Zoo on Saturday.

Zoo to open ‘Turtles in Trouble’ exhibit in 2016

–Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero will be opening an exhibit focused on turtles in 2016. A ribbon cutting for the Turtle Lab’s opening was held on Friday. Updates and renovations have been completed on existing building that has not been used at the zoo.

The zoo decided to focus on turtles because turtles are a particularly vulnerable species and because of the zoo’s commitment to conservation.

Currently, there are about 100 turtles in the zoo –including endangered species from Vietnam, Myanmar, China and South America. The new Turtle Lab will work with threatened species of turtle and tortoises. In early 2016, the zoo will open Turtles in Trouble exhibit to show what work is being done in Turtle Lab, which is off-limits to the public.

Many turtles, Charles Paddock Zoo Director Alan Baker said, can live up to 175 years, though many live 80 to 100 years.

Charles Paddock Zoo

A zookeeper at Charles Paddock Zoo educates children over the summer about the tortoises.

“This newly designated Turtle Lab will now allow Zoo staff to keep the bulk of its turtle collection in a single, temperature-controlled environment,” according to a press release.

The public Turtles in Trouble exhibit will explain the work being done with turtles in the off-exhibit Turtle Lab and will be a jumping off point for the educational programs, which is the third component of the program. The educational series will highlight the diversity of turtles, as well as introduce them to the zoo in relationship with its biodiversity hotspots.

Topics will include current threats to turtles including the Asian turtle crisis, the black market trade and other conservation topics framed around turtles as a starting point. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums selected the Pacific Pond Turtle to be one of the species to be part of its Saving Animals From Extinction program. The Pacific Pond Turtle is a local native turtle species, which is becoming rare throughout its historical range.

The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular admission is $7 for those 12 and older; $6 for seniors 65 and older; $5 for children 3 to 11; and those 2 and younger are admitted for free. The zoo will be closed on Christmas.

For more information, go to or call 805-461-5080. For information on educational programs, call (805) 470-3172 or go to The zoo is located at 9100 Morro Road in Atascadero, next to Atascadero Lake Park.

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