Conservation Husbandry Specialist
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. His interest in turtles subsided during the teenage years when nothing compared to riding a skateboard and listening to music.
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. Following this change in focus, Ben spent his time working in several pet shops during the mid-to-late 1990s and experienced caring for a number of different herps. However, none came close to inspriring passion in Ben the way Chelonians did. Their captive care and breeding quickly became Ben’s focus. In 1995, he hatched his first tortoises: three Russian Tortoises (Testudo horsfieldii).
In 2002, now a decade into seriously keeping turtles, the focus of Ben’s collection of South American Chelonians started to evolve. It became apparent that Chelonians from the Southeast region of Asia were to become the new focus. 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.
Besides turtle husbandry, Ben enjoys growing Bromeliads and other tropical plants and spends as much time with his family as he can. His young children are part of the future generation of turtle conservationists.