Costa Rica Blog
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Costa Rican Turtles Find Help and Care at Tortufauna Turtle Center


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Costa Rica is famous for its many varieties of sea turtles, but this popular vacation destination is also home to several species of freshwater and land turtles as well. These freshwater turtles face many difficulties in order to survive, but receive little in the way of attention and care. Tortufauna in La Garita de Alajuela outside of San Jose is a private, nonprofit research center and farm that helps protect the many species of turtles in Costa Rica.

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Started by former biology teacher Vilma Castillo in 2003, Tortufauna houses a clinic for curing wild turtles, as well as providing care to pet turtles. The center is a home for 6 of the 7 species of land and water turtles that live in Costa Rica’s waters.  The Tortufauna center hopes to raise awareness and promote the protection of the turtles, who face extinction if they are not properly preserved and protected. Tortufauna also promotes the reproduction of these Costa Rica turtles.

Costa Rican turtles face many survival threats that other animal species don’t worry about. Turtles are slow moving

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and can’t run from predators. They are frequently hit by cars and occasionally they are killed by chemical sprays and pollution. It takes the Costa Rican land turtles almost five years to reach the reproductive, egg-laying age, and the eggs are vulnerable to dogs, raccoons, snakes, and other natural elements. Thus, the population of many turtle species in Costa Rica is dwindling.

At the Tortufauna turtle center, the land turtles are given free rein and wander throughout the center without cages. The Tortufauna center’s aquatic turtles have water tanks with land and rocks for sunning themselves. The center boasts alligator turtles, box turtles, red-cheeked turtles, and yellow-cheeked turtles.

The red cheeked turtles are a species from the US that are often sold as pets. Unfortunately, many turtle-owners grow tired of their pets or can’t care for them sufficiently, so they abandon their red cheeked turtles to the wild, where they have become an invasive species, infringing on the habitats of native Costa Rican turtles.

The Tortufauna turtle center offers the visitors the unique chance to see the land and aquatic turtles of Costa Rica up close and personal.  For more information on how to visit the Tortufauna turtle center, contact Escape Villas at 1-888-771-2976 or