May 23 is World Turtle Day. I’m including tortoises is this. One of my earliest memories is going to Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York, where they had this huge tortoise. It must have been very old. I loved watching it move slowly around.
Turtles are among the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles, having evolved millions of years ago. Turtles live all over the world in almost every type of climate. Turtle and tortoise are often used interchangeably as synonyms, but there are distinct differences. Turtles spend most of their lives in water. Tortoises are land animals.
The largest sea turtle species is the leatherback turtle. It weighs 600 to 1,500 pounds and is about 4.5 to 5.25 feet long. The Galápagos tortoise grows up to 6 feet long and 573 pounds. The largest freshwater turtle in North America is the alligator snapping turtle. It can grow to 2.5 feet long and weigh as much as 200 pounds.
Turtles and tortoises show up in a variety of stories. There is the famous fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” which teaches us slow and steady wins the race. You will notice that although the tortoise won the race, there are no sports teams named The Tortoises.
Because of their great age, turtles are sometimes seen as wise. Master Oogway in the Kung Fu Panda movie is pictured as a turtle. A tongue in cheek mention goes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. One of the stories from my childhood is Yertle the Turtle by Doctor Seuss. I have a couple of quotes from that below. It teaches us not to try to reach the top by crushing other folks.
But of all the turtles, my favorite has to be the green sea turtle for its beauty and grace. Unfortunately, according to the World Wildlife Fund, nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. It is a shame that they are so vulnerable to poaching and other activities. In honor of their special day, I celebrate the turtle.
Quotations about Turtles and Tortoises
Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack,
Came a groan from that plain little turtle named Mack.
“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack!
Besides, we need food. We are starving!” groaned Mack.–Dr Seuss (Yertle the Turtle)
And the turtles, of course … all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.–Dr Seuss (Yertle the Turtle)
Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.–James Bryant Conant
You’re slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.–Dilbert’s Words of Wisdom
Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.–Alex Haley
Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.–Bill Copeland
Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.–Bruce Feiler
It’s OK to do cute little things like kissing a turtle, but you can’t kiss another person because he’s a different color? Give me a break. And you have to remember, I’m from Dallas, Texas.–Aaron Spelling
I am now a turtle. Virtually everything I own is on my back and suffice it to say I am one ton lighter and therefore 2,000 pounds happier. All houses are gone.–Bobby Darin
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