Participants presented fascinating research dealing with health issues affecting tortoise populations, environmental threats to the tortoise, the potentially harmful effects of ambitious renewable energy projects on desert tortoise habitat, and the genetic differences between geographically distant populations of desert tortoises. There was much for all of us to learn!
This wasn’t just any conference for DTCC staff, though; it was a special occasion for us—the first time that we made a public presentation together. Each of us spent five to seven minutes presenting different aspects of the DTCC, showing the improvements we have made during our first year on site, presenting on-site tortoise inventory data, explaining the role of San Diego Zoo veterinarians and other zoo-based staff at the DTCC, and detailing our future plans for the facility.
The audience seemed most interested in the part of our presentation that detailed pet tortoises and captive care, because most people in attendance only had experience with wild tortoises and had never before witnessed the results of poor pet tortoise care (see post Family Dog Loves Pet Tortoise Too Much?). We also shared our great news about taking over operations of the pet desert tortoise hotline (see post Desert Tortoise Hotline). The audience had several questions for us, and people were eager to meet with us after the session had ended.
Although it took some of us out of our comfort zone to get up in front of a room full of people (100+ people were there!), we were welcomed warmly, and we are really proud that we were there to represent both the DTCC and the San Diego Zoo. We are looking forward to the meeting being held on our home turf in Las Vegas next year!
Pam Cicoria is a research associate at the San Diego Zoo’s Desert Tortoise Conservation Center.
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