Education is the foundation for successful conservation. Educating about specific species, their natural history, and their care enables both those in the field and those working with captive populations to understand the animals they are trying to save. Additionally, general education about the plight of turtles and tortoises increases awareness which can help create a stronger support system for organizations working to conserve them.
In-situ and ex-situ conservation work together to provide the best conservation outcomes. While in-situ conservation could stand alone, the support of captive assurance programs along with in-situ programs provides for a complete conservation effort that can conserve habitats, boost populations, and save eco-systems.
Research, both of captive and wild populations, is the only way to truly learn everything we can about turtles and tortoises. Research helps us identify populations which are in need of conservation, find the best conservation methods for each population, and fine-tune our husbandry practices for the animals captivity.
Developing apps; writing articles; designing educational materials about natural history, care, and data-keeping; and educating through effective use of social media and technology.
Presenting talks at meetings, conferences, classrooms, and other venues around the US to share husbandry, experiences, and research.
Maintaining captive, genetically diverse animals for the purpose of developing assurance colonies, often in collaboration with other organizations to make these programs as diverse as possible.
Collaborating with other organizations to create new research and in-situ conservation projects and supporting existing projects lead by other organizations.
Want to help? Get involved now!
Donate now or become a member to support theTurtleRoom’s education and conservation work! Or, contact us to see how you can “get your hands dirty”.
Steve Enders is the Executive Director and Founder of theTurtleRoom. As Executive Director, he has overall strategic and operational responsibility for theTurtleRoom’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution/achievement of its mission and goals. Steve also oversees all communications, technology, data management, and education. He is also deeply involved in authoring many of the educational resources on the website; works with other organizations and theTurtleRoom’s staff to develop quality, detailed captive breeding programs of carefully selected turtle and tortoise specimens in an effort to meet theTurtleRoom’s conservation goals; and is getting involved in chelonian research projects. He serves as Project Manager for all of theTurtleRoom’s projects in the Graptemys and Sacalia genera.
Steve lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with his wife, his turtles, and 3 cats. He teaches math at a local high school, is a certified teacher in both math and music, holds two B.A. in Music degrees (Jazz Studies and Saxophone) from Lebanon Valley College, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Mathematics Education from Millersville University, and is currently working towards his Masters of Mathematics Education at Millersville University. His hobbies include numerous sports (especially St. Louis Cardinals baseball) and spending time with his wife. Steve first got into the turtle hobby in 2005 by chance and quickly fell in love with turtles, thanks to Digger the female Eastern Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta picta, he rescued from a window well just after graduating college. In 2009, Steve became extremely hooked on the hobby after purchasing his first two hatchling turtles. Since that time, his interest blossomed quickly into the passion for education and conservation which launched theTurtleRoom in 2011.
Steve not only enjoys keeping and caring for Chelonians, but regularly can be found studying and reading about them as well. As with our other staff, he continuously works to be part of the global conservation effort to help these species continue to exist in our world and is constantly striving to give his animals fantastic habitats where they can live as happy, healthy turtles. Steve and Anthony co-own a group of Geoemyda spengleri which are listed in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan. Steve’s trio of Graptemys oculifera and Sacalia quadriocellata specimens are also listed in the respective AZA SSPs for each species. He has also published a studbook for the Western Hermann’s Tortoise, which he co-wrote with our own Chris Leone. Steve also frequently vends at the Hamburg, PA reptile shows with Chris who also owns Garden State Tortoise (find him at the Garden State Tortoise banner).
Anthony is the Senior Director of theTurtleRoom, overseeing all video and audio media production, co-hosting The Pondcast with John, and providing support to the Executive Director. He also authors a portion of the educational resources for the site and works with other organizations (AZA and TSA) and privately to develop quality, detailed captive breeding programs of carefully selected turtle and tortoise specimens in an effort to meet theTurtleRoom’s conservation goals. Anthony has also written a book on the Geoemyda genus as a whole, which will be published by Living Art Publishing as part of their “Turtles of the World” Series, in addition to several articles in magazines such as REPTILES, The BATAGUR, Testudo (Italian), and RADIATA (German). Anthony has a B.A. in Art from Rhode Island College and runs several community programs for a non-profit health provider in Connecticut. Anthony played basketball through college in Rhode Island and after college in Italy.
Anthony currently works most with with Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtles (Geoemyda japonica), Spider Tortoises (Pyxis arachnoides arachnoides), Flowerback Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), Vietnamese Pond Turtles (Mauremys annamensis), Red-Necked Pond Turtles (Mauremys nigricans), Chinese Yellow-Margined Box Turtles (Cuora flavomarginata), Four-Eyed Turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata), Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii), Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata), Eastern Hermann’s Tortoises (Testudo hermanni boettgeri), and a group Vietnamese Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle (Geoemyda spengleri) project with Steve. His group of P. a. arachnoides and the shared group of G. spengleri are listed in the respective AZA Studbooks and SSPs for their species. His group of C. flavomarginata is part of the TSA Taxonomy Management Group for the species.
Anthony is a member of the Turtle Survival Alliance, Turtle & Tortoise Preservation Group, New York Turtle & Tortoise Society, and New England Herpetological Society as well as TurtleForum.com, TortoiseBoard.com, and TortoiseForum.org where he can be found as Anthony P. You can contact him at You can contact him at [email protected].
Chris is the Director of Animal Husbandry for theTurtleRoom, responsible for overseeing and coordinating animal husbandry efforts among all members of theTurtleRoom’s team. Chris is also the owner and operator of Garden State Tortoise, LLC. He is the studbook coordinator for the North American Regional Studbook for Testudo hermanni hermanni (a combined project of Garden State Tortoise and theTurtleRoom) and his work with the world’s turtles and tortoises spans over two decades. Chris’ life centers around keeping and breeding dozens of species with a primary focus on Mediterranean tortoises and turtles of the Northeastern United States, among others. Additionally, he has done and is doing extensive work regarding geographical variation and DNA research in Testudo species. He is an Educational Resource Contributor for theTurtleRoom and has written for Reptiles Magazine since early 2011. Chris is also an author and contributor for Testudo Edizioni (Italy), ReptileApartment.com, TortoiseForum.org, and The Reptile Report. He is an active member of several turtle and tortoise forums across the globe. In previous years, Chris has been a helping hand in turtle dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, has provided live specimens for several state nature museums and has aided in photography for books and other magazines on the subject in addition to care sheets for reptilechannel.com. His work with local humane societies, fish and wildlife agencies and zoos has helped countless turtles find new homes and his research is ongoing. Visit him and his amazing animals at gardenstatetortoise.com and hermannihaven.com.
Casey Leone serves as Operations Manager for theTurtleRoom. Her responsibilities include providing support for the Directors, assisting with organizational management, and overseeing protocol creation and data collection. Casey is a zoo keeper and agriculture specialist at Six Flags Safari, working with many different species both marine and land. Using positive reinforcement, animal training plays a large role in her position at work. She is able to work hands on with a wide array of species that include Giant Anteater, Giant Aldabra Tortoise, Macaws, Brown Bear, Coatimundi, Barn Owl, and many more. In combination with her love for animals, Casey will also be designing and maintaining a large garden, using recycled material, to both feed and enrich the lives of many different species at the safari.
She also has a background in horticulture having worked as a floral and landscape designer for several years. Casey is accomplished in various horticulture and landscaping disciplines as well as managing and caring for a large vegetable garden and greenhouse. She has also helped design, maintain, and install a large themed topiary display for the annual Philadelphia Flower Show.
At home, she is second in command at Garden State Tortoise, with her husband Chris. Together they maintain over 50 different species and subspecies of turtles and tortoises from around the globe. Her current project is raising Chelonoidis nigra and Aldabrachelys gigantea.
Ben is a Conservation Husbandry Specialist, working with other organizations (AZA and TSA) and privately to develop quality, detailed captive breeding programs of carefully selected turtle and tortoise specimens in an effort to meet theTurtleRoom’s conservation goals. He also participates in the development of theTurtleRoom’s educational resources. Turtles have been a part of Ben’s life for more than twenty years. Growing up in Northeastern Ohio, Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) were the first to be cared for. They were typically kept for a few weeks before being released or escaping to freedom. Between high school graduation and leaving for college, Ben’s interest in turtles was rekindled by the gift of a hatchling Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata). As his passion and attention turned more towards herpetology, Ben dropped his studies in graphic design and illustration after a few semesters.
Then, in 2002, shortly after starting work in the Memphis Zoo herpetarium, Ben was urged to pursue and publish a regional studbook; Indotestudo forstenii was the chosen species. He has now been working with them and breeding them for a decade. After leaving the Memphis Zoo in 2007, Ben has maintained focus and has privately established a very diverse group of both wild collected and captive born I.forstenii. Currently, Ben is participating in the AZA regional studbooks for Indotestudo forstenii and Manouria emys.
Scott is a Conservation Husbandry Specialist for theTurtleRoom. Scott has been working with reptiles and amphibians since childhood. His keen interest in chelonians started early and he was lucky enough to have parents that donated their time taking Scott looking for herps in the field, scouring every pet shop in the New York area and visiting zoos, museums and aquariums. Scott was inspired by the writings and work of Gerald Durrell at a young age and recognized the value of assurance colonies and captive breeding as an active ex-situ conservation tool. Scott has a degree in Biology and worked as a wildlife educator at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ.
Some of Scott’s current projects include Razor-backed Musk Turtles (Sternotherus carinatus), Southeast Asian Box Turtles (Cuora amboinensis kamarona), Yellow-margined Box Turtles (Cuora flavomarginata), Spot-legged Turtles (Rhinoclemmys punctularia), Home’s Hinge-back Tortoises (Kinixys homeana), Pancake Tortoises (Malacochersus tornieri), Eastern Snake-necked Turtles (Chelodina longicollis), Roti Island Snake-necked Turtles (Chelodina mccordi), Parker’s Snake-necked Turtles (Chelodina parkeri) and African Dwarf Mud Turtles (Pelusios nanus). His group of C. flavomarginata is part of the TSA Taxon Management Group for the species.
Scott is a member of The New York Turtle and Tortoise Society, the TTPG and the TSA. His avocation is to do his part in the conservation of endangered chelonians. Scott is also a founding board member of The Anxiety and Depressions Initiative, a 501c3 organization that promotes the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle while living with anxiety, depression and related disorders.
Kévin is an Educational Resource Developer for theTurtleRoom. His work includes writing articles, writing code for applications being developed, and helping develop other educational resources. Kévin has a special passion for the turtles native to Africa and is also the Communications & Fundraising Officer for the African Chelonian Institute. Kévin holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Université de Bourgogne and is currently in the first year of his PhD studies at the University of Arkansas, also in Computer Sciences. He has combined his passion for turtles with his studies by developing a software called Digital Chelonian Log, available for free (it is still a work in progress). Even when he isn’t working for ACI, tTR, or on his PhD, Kévin is still reading articles or books about turtles.
Kévin’s interest in turtles began at age 8, when he got his first turtle by chance, a Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). At this point, he was becoming very curious about turtles and acquired his second turtle, a Yellow-Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) a few months later. However, when his family moved from France to Martinique, he had to give away both turtles.
In just a couple years, another friend gave Kévin two more Trachemys s. elegans and his interest continued to grow. Thanks to Kévin moving back to France, he had to acquire new turtles after the move. At this point, the Trachemys species were banned in France as an invasive species, and he discovered the Pelusios species (African Mud Turtles). He bought three Pelusios castaneus hatchlings and began a desire to learn as much as possible on the husbandry, education, and conservation of African species.
Kévin is a member of the Turtle Survival Alliance and Federation Francophone pour l’Elevage et la Protection des Tortues (FFEPT) and is very active in the chelonian community, particularly in forums and social media such as: numerous facebook groups, Forum Tortues, Terrapin-Info.co.uk, TurtleForum.com, and TurtleTimes.com (theTurtleRoom) where he can be found under the username skwateur. You can contact him at [email protected] or on Facebook.
Steve grew up in Northwest Indiana and was exposed to herpetology at a young age and cites several factors and people that were influential to this passion. His parents embraced childhood curiosity of the natural world, and through his local 4-H program. He cites the late Charles B Keating Jr, his former herpetology project superintendant, as being very influential to his interests. Steve would continue his life journey attending Purdue University and took several key courses to his interests and several others to diversify his knowledge base. He cherishes the friendships and connections that he has made over the years both domestic and international.
Steve’s herpetological interests include: current medicine and surgical techniques, emergent disease in wild and captive populations, advancements in the production of human antivenin, aspects of in-situ conservation of Midwest and International species, captive management and herpetoculture of imperiled species, and education of the public and future generations regarding the plight of wildlife worldwide. He also praises his wife’s tolerance for his unique interests and hopes to extend his knowledge of the natural world to his children.
Kevin is the Video Production Coordinator for theTurtleRoom. He is responsible for creating and producing (with the help of other team members) the educational content that you see on theTurtleRoom’s YouTube channel and also provides support to the Senior Director. Kevin was introduced to turtles at a very young age from his older brother who kept them as pets. Growing up there were always turtles in and out of the house. Having spent twenty years filming and editing skateboarding, he now brings his passion for film to Chelonians. At home, he primarily works with Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin ssp.) and has a few other smaller projects. Kevin’s passions are skateboarding, biking, kayaking, film and Herpetology. Kevin lives in the Northeast with his wife, daughter, three dogs, and their bale of turtles. You can reach Kevin at [email protected].
Rodney’s interest in tortoises began when his wife desperately wanted one as a pet. After looking online and diligently researching, they finally bought one. Soon, they realized how little they actually knew, despite all the research, and how much conflicting information was on the internet. While researching, Rodney spent countless hours reading general news stories about tortoises and turtles. At the time, he couldn’t find any site that was consolidating any news stories. Thinking like-minded chelonia enthusiasts might be interested, he started to do it himself through Twitter and, for a time, on tortoiseblog.com. Rodney has been re-publishing stories in various forms ever since.
Rodney brings his love of turtle and tortoise news to theTurtleRoom as the Editor of the World Turtle News, where he oversees the team and production of the WTN blog feature. Rodney works for the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at King’s College London as UNIX systems administrator.
Amanda Sargent is the Social Media Coordinator and works primarily on connecting the public and theTurtleRoom through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She also contributes to the blog and development of other educational resources on the site.
Amanda has been obsessed with reptiles since she found her first garter snake outside as a curious five year old, and since then hasn’t been able to get enough of finding all types of reptiles outside. She also loves to keep a large collection of reptiles, and her first pet reptile was a Russian tortoise. Since then, she has kept a wide variety of snakes, lizards, and amphibians but her favorite animals to work with remain turtles and tortoises. Her favorite species to work with currently is the diamondback terrapin, and has 4 of them that she loves to share with the public during educational events.
Amanda has a background in environmental biology and lots of unique experience working in the field with chelonians; most notably, sea turtles. Amanda was an employee at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA for around 2 years, where she worked with captive sea turtles as well as educating the public about them. She was also involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and research of Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Green (Chelonia mydas) Sea Turtles for two winters during New England’s cold-stunning events. In addition to her work with sea turtles, she has also worked extensively in the field with species such as the Eastern Box Turtle, Blanding’s Turtle and Diamondback Terrapin.
Aside from working with theTurtleRoom, Amanda is also a leader for the Georgia Reptile Society’s Greater Atlanta area chapter and does whatever she can to work or volunteer in the conservation of reptiles and amphibians. She lives in Atlanta with her boyfriend, their two dogs, and a colorful crew of herps! She hopes to grow her experience in conservation by not only working in the field and with captive breeding/husbandry, but also in pursuit of her passion – educating the public and sharing her love for turtles and tortoises with the world!
Michaela has been an avid animal enthusiast for as long as she can remember and has been keeping reptiles for more than a decade. As a young child, before she was allowed to keep any pets, she would catch and care for crickets, praying mantises, and other insects to satisfy her urge to study wildlife. Much to her mother’s horror, she would calmly and frequently present to her a 6′ long Black Rat Snake brushing off the frequent bite wounds as no big deal.
Her passion for chelonians in particular began eight years ago when she was gifted with a newly hatched Eastern Box Turtle. This fueled a love for Terrapene that eventually expanded to many other species. In addition to T. c. carolina she also works with T. c. major, T. c. triunguis, Indotestudo forstenii, and Manouria emys emys. She plans to eventually work with species of the Cuora genus, with her greatest interest being in Cuora mouhotii mouhotii and C. m. obsti. It saddens her to observe the decrease in the wild population of this beautiful species and hopes that her efforts will be successful in conserving this underrated species as well as the other species that capture her interest.
Other members of her collection of reptiles include a Leopard Gecko and a Nigerian Uromastyx. Michaela is also interesting in veterinary medicine and hopes to become a veterinary technician or participate field research. Michaela has been riding horses for 7 years, an greatly enjoys jumping cross-country aboard her equine companion. She is a dedicated long-distance runner, runs over 40 miles per week, and has competed in track and field, cross-country, and numerous road races including her favorite race, the 15k.
John is the host of The Pondcast (which Anthony co-hosts) and contributes to the development of theTurtleRoom’s educational resources. Now an assistant coach with the Iona College Men’s Basketball team, John has been a reptile enthusiast for his entire life, starting with Sunday trips to reptile shows with his father as a boy. He has worked with various species throughout his life including many species of snake, gecko and turtles. Most recently he has worked with the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Mata Mata (Chelus fimbriata) and Brazilian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria).
In college, John bred Bearded Dragons and Leopard Geckos, and also lived with various wild animals such as Anthony Pierlioni ([email protected]). He played Basketball for four years while receiving a degree in American History from Rhode Island College. After school he coached college basketball for three years and then moved to Brooklyn, NY to pursue a career in standup comedy/writing, before taking his current position at Iona. Throughout life John has been very passionate about raising awareness for issues related to human interaction with all types of fauna, especially our little cold-blooded friends.