Turtle-ly Cool Fieldwork: CALL Intern Experience

We had the pleasure of bringing four interns out in the field with us from the Climate Action Learning & Leadership (CALL) Program. They assisted us with tracking our headstart and adult Blanding’s turtles via radio telemetry and also partook in checking artificial coverboards during snake surveys.   

Left: One of the Blanding’s turtles headstarts poking it’s head out of the mud during tracking fieldwork. Right: A Green frog found on some white-water lily pads during tracking fieldwork. 

The following is what each CALL intern had to say about joining the Adopt-A-Pond team for fieldwork:  

Justin holding a Blanding’s turtle headstart successfully found with the radio telemetry equipment! 

“Hi. My name is Justin McLennon. I am 22 years old, and I am part of the Climate Action Learning and Leadership (CALL) program at the Toronto Zoo. I was able to spend time with the Adopt- A-Pond staff where I got to assist in tracking Blanding’s turtles and milk snakes. It was a great experience getting to participate in their fieldwork for the day and see some of the conservation efforts that are made for the Blanding’s turtles.  The biggest takeaway from this experience was getting to see a Blanding’s turtle in the wild. This made the experience more personal because seeing animals in their native habitat makes you want to protect them even more.  This is one of the many experiences at the Zoo I will never forget.”  

— Justin
Salsa holding a Blanding’s turtle headstart successfully found with the radio telemetry equipment! 

“Hey! Salsa here. Being able to experience such a great opportunity such as the Adopt- A- Pond program through the CALL internship is something that I’ll always be grateful for. Getting hands on experience in the field in this program is an irreplaceable memory that I will always have with me from now on. What I loved about the program is how it’s directly involved in the conservation of these animals. It made me realize the amount of effort and hard work that is put into repopulating these wildlife species for future generations to enjoy coexisting with. The most fun part of the program was how it felt like I was playing Pokémon, except this time with a greater purpose. It was absolutely surreal every-time we found a turtle. Being able to coexist with such wonderful creatures such as snakes and turtles is absolutely surreal. It’s truly our job to make sure that people in the future get to live alongside them as well.”  

— Salsa 
Courtney (left), an Adopt-A-Pond Conservation Technician, showing Nila (middle) and Giulia (right) how to operate the radio telemetry equipment. 

“The time spent at the Adopt-A-Pond program at the Toronto Zoo was unique and unlike any other experience. Learning about all the different species in the wetlands and how important they are in the upkeep of the ecosystems was amazing, and being able to go and see them ourselves was truly an immersive and educational experience. The Adopt-A-Pond staff that ran the program allowed us to actively participate in finding Blanding’s turtles by tracking them using special equipment and collecting data. We learned about the headstart program they have at the Toronto Zoo that gives these species an increased chance of survival and were able to see firsthand how much care went into ensuring these species not only survived but thrived as well.  

Nila (left) using the radio tracker to hone in on a headstart as Courtney (right) shows Giulia (middle) how to operate the radio telemetry equipment. 

We were also able to do snake surveys and help collect data on the variety of snake species within these ecosystems. Then, we participated in road mortality surveys and were able to see how we can build around wildlife so that they can safely get across roads. Learning about the species native to this land and how their survival is important to wetland conservation is one thing, but being in such a different environment and being on the front-lines in protecting those species was a very unique and enjoyable experience. It’s been one of the most unique and interesting things we’ve done during our internship so far and seeing how passionate everyone that was a part of the program was is heartwarming and gives us hope that our wetlands and the species native to them can be saved and protected.”  

— Nila and Giulia

Thank you to the interns for all their hard work and enthusiasm while out in the field! We were thrilled to be able to give a look into reptile and amphibian conservation work. We wish them nothing but the best in their endeavors!  

To see more from the CALL program, follow these pages: 

TZ CALL Project Instagram

The Toronto Zoo Facebook

To learn more about each fieldwork activity and the headstarting program check out our Facebook Live presentations! 

Headstarting: https://fb.watch/9miq7SC0v6/  

Radio Telemetry: https://fb.watch/9miu-k0sBs/  

Snake Surveys: https://fb.watch/9miu5X5lzY/