OTCC is the only wildlife rehabilitation centre dedicated solely to providing medical and rehabilitative care to Ontario turtles. Once healed these turtles are released back into their natural habitat where they can continue to reproduce for many decades.
In 2009, we admitted a total of 50-80 turtles per year. This number has climbed steadily as people across the province learn about the work we do and the importance of turtles to their ecosystems. The admission numbers have steadily climbed, and 2017 saw 920 admitted turtles, in 2018 the number was 938, and in 2019 we saw a record number of 1498 admissions. In 2020, despite Covid restrictions, a cool spring, and an excessively hot summer, admissions were still over 1,000 cases.
The centre operates under the leadership of Executive Director Dr. Sue Carstairs, Medical Director for the Turtle Hospital. OTCC is supported by a province-wide network of veterinarians, private clinics, and other wildlife centres who help to get the turtles immediate care while transport is being arranged to OTCC. These veterinarians receive any needed training, and ongoing support from Dr. Carstairs, and they act as First Responders if finders are unable to transport the turtles directly to us. Visit the Turtle Drop-off page for more information about what to do if you find an injured turtle.
Most of the turtles are brought to our hospital with thanks to Good Samaritans from across the province, with help from our Turtle Taxi Volunteers, that number over 800! These turtles come from across their home range in Ontario. Southern Ontario is THE place for turtles in Canada, with a higher concentration and number of species than anywhere else in Canada.
Educating the public about what to do if they see a turtle on the road, or find an injured turtle, has lead to our admission number increasing greatly. This means that more turtles are getting the help they need to get back home. We have a network of “First Responders” across the province, which are mainly veterinarians who donate their time to help turtles in their area, until they can get transported to OTCC for surgery and continued care. This way, turtles get quick access to emergency care. These First Responders are provided with the materials and training they need, to provide this care. We can’t thank them enough for providing this vital role.