The first year of a turtle’s life is the hardest.

Emerging from its protective shell, it becomes a defenceless target for an array of predators and threats. Our western painted turtle recovery program cares for turtle hatchlings during this tough time and releases them back into the wild when they are large enough to survive.

 Turtles receive no care from their parents once they hatch, and few young turtles survive to become adults. That is why our team is protecting nests, incubating eggs, and giving hatchlings the best chance of survival. So far, we have given over 300 western painted turtles a head start in British Columbia and saved and released over 2,000 turtle hatchlings in Ontario!

But we must do more and we need your help!

How the head starting program works


Step 1: Collect western painted turtle eggs from the last remaining population on the south coast. These eggs are in locations where they would have been destroyed if we had left them. We leave eggs that are in known “safe” nesting sites so they can hatch in the wild.

Step 2: Incubate the collected eggs in our facility at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Every egg is catalogued.

Step 3: Raise the little hatchlings in simulated ponds over the winter. We feed and take care of them so that they grow to be large enough to survive in the wild. Every turtle has a name and report card to track how it is doing.

Step 4: The best part! We take the hatchlings back into the wild and release them in restored or protected turtle habitat. Doing this helps to strengthen the wild population and gives the subspecies the best chance of survival.

We need your help to give these turtle hatchlings the best chance at life! A $25 donation will provide the food and supplies to care for the hatchlings until next spring when they can be released into the wild. When you adopt-an-egg you’ll receive:

  • A custom certificate showing that you have adopted a western painted turtle egg
  • Regular email updates with exclusive details about how the hatchlings are doing
  • Access to videos and photos that are shared with our community
  • Your name listed on our website (optional)

Other ways to donate


We understand that a one-time gift does not suit everyone’s giving needs. If you would like to help by giving monthly, click on the button below. We appreciate every type of gift.

About the Western Painted Turtle


  • The coastal population of the western painted turtle is listed as endangered.
  • The western painted turtle is the only remaining pond turtle in British Columbia.
  • Adults don’t reach reproductive age until 4 (male) and 6 (female) years old.
  • The coastal population of the western painted turtle is genetically different than other subspecies.
  • Our headstarting program uses conservation breeding to augment the wild population.
  • Learn more