79 Trafficked Turtles Were Released Back Into the Wild, and The Adorable Moment Was Caught on Video

This week, Animal Defenders International (ADI) shared the news that 79 turtles and 10 tortoises were seized from wildlife traffickers and returned to their home in the Peruvian Amazon.

Their first moment of freedom — which includes a race to the water and a few tumbles – is all caught in an adorable video.

The release is part of a new initiative between ADI and government officials in Peru, that focuses on reptile victims of wildlife trafficking. It is intended to be the first of many releases, ensuring the future survival of the species.

“This is a new beginning and it is immensely satisfying to know that we can rehabilitate more turtles and tortoises, giving these neglected species the attention they deserve,” said IRUPA coordinator and veterinarian Milagros Ramos, who helped care for the turtles and assist with their relocation.

1_ADI_vet_checks_precious_cargCredit: Animal Defenders International

According to ADI, most of the yellow-spotted river turtles, who are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, were being kept illegally by traffickers in tubs, fish tanks or buckets to be sold as pets to people who were wrongly informed that they are easy to care for.

3_Turtles_before_releaseCredit: Animal Defenders International

They spent the past few months being rehabilitated at facilities in Lima before being transported to the Taricaya Ecological Reserve near Puerto Maldonado, where they were released.

4_Turtles_before_releaseCredit: Animal Defenders International

“It is such a joy to see these animals go back to the wild where they belong. A life of captivity is no life for a wild animal, and we look forward to returning many more to the habitats from which they were torn,” said ADI President Jan Creamer.

5_Tortoise_wild_releaseCredit: Animal Defenders International

Hopefully the release will help raise awareness about turtles and the need to protect them in the wild. According to a recent report released by the Turtle Conservation Coalition, more than half of the currently recognized 356 species of turtles and tortoises are threatened with extinction.

Overharvesting, whether it’s for human consumption or the pet trade, is now one of their main threats. Even the removal of just a few adults can have an impact on their population that lasts for decades.

That’s not only bad news for turtles, it’s bad news for the ecosystems in which they live where they play an important role maintaining healthy rivers and lakes.

“We are very happy to give these animals their freedom and hope it will help highlight why wildlife should not be traded or kept in our homes,” said ADI veterinarian Ines Nole, who assisted in the relocation.

Photo credit: Animal Defenders International


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago


Chad A
Chad A11 months ago


ANA MARIJA R12 months ago

Thank You, ADI💕!! Faith in the human race restored for today :)
“We are very happy to give these animals their freedom and hope it will help highlight why wildlife should not be traded or kept in our homes,” said ADI veterinarian Ines Nole, who assisted in the relocation."

Virginia Abreu de Paula

So good to see them free at last. Beautiful work. In 2014 Sir Paul McCartney participated in the realese of turtles here in Brazil, in the beach of Itacaré Bahia. Too bad they didn't film it. But is true. They even planted a tree there with his name.

Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago

Happy for them, tks.

Berenice Guedes de Sá
Berenice Guedes de Sáabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing this good story! I hope this may ocur more frequently in all places!!

Roslyn M
Roslyn McBrideabout a year ago

Good news.

Sheila Miller
Sheila Millerabout a year ago

Such happy news! May the 79 turtles thrive and have long lives. Thank you for this uplifting article.

Carole R
Carole Rabout a year ago

Ah ... very good news.

Jaime J
Jaime Jabout a year ago

Thank you!