Since 1996, the Milwaukee County Zoo has participated in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s program to raise and release ornate box turtles into a wild prairie remnant in south central Wisconsin.
At the program’s inception, our Zoo developed diet and light cycle methodologies to determine how best to raise the turtles. Our Zoo also developed raise-and-release procedures.
During a single winter at the Zoo, these turtles can grow from a one-third ounce hatchling to as much as five ounces. In the wild, it might take seven years for an ornate box turtle to reach this size. The Milwaukee County Zoo has raised and released over 300 ornate box turtles, with an average of 24 turtles, each year since 1996.