American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), the first national turtle and tortoise rescue, is sending a plea to parents – buy toys, not turtles. Seth Rogen, a producer on the film, saw the first Ninja movie as a youngster in 1990, the same year ATR was founded, and is expected to draw more crowds than in the past.
History shows that after the release of a series of these successful Ninja movies, turtles lose their lives through the pet trade. Most of the turtles have been scooped out of the wild to be sold in pet stores or over the internet. After seeing the film and thinking real turtles jump through the air or fly like Ninja turtles, kids ask parents to buy live turtles.
Sadly, after bringing the turtle home, sticking it in a small tank and waiting for it to perform, kids abandon interest when nothing happens – the turtle just sits there. The best thing parents can do is purchase action figure toys that actually mimic the ninja movements from the film.
“I like to say putting a turtle in a tank is how we would feel if we had to live in a bathtub all our lives,” said Susan Tellem, co-founder and executive director of ATR. “After the successful release of previous Ninja films, turtles, most commonly the red eared slider or box turtle, were purchased by the thousands for children who wanted their own Ninja turtle. The purchase is often an impulse buy without regard to the fact that turtles can live 25 years or more. Sadly, most of these turtles were abandoned in shelters and rescues or dumped into lakes and waterways (or worse toilets) after the movie’s young fans found out that the real turtles did not fight crime or perform incredible stunts.”
Tellem says that this proved disastrous for thousands of turtles. “Red eared sliders easily identifiable because of the red stripe next to their eyes, are the most common turtles given up for adoption,” she said. “We recommend only adopting these turtles to people with private ponds where they can mimic their natural habitat. We, along with many rescues, have to turn away hundreds turtles annually because we are at capacity. Unfortunately, no one tells the potential owner that these turtles live long lives instead of staying a cute little quarter or palm size,” Tellem said.