About Turtle Island

With the innovative project TURTLE ISLAND we want to contribute to the conservation of the most endangered and threatened vertebrates worldwide.

Turtle Island is a scientific institution recognized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW) with the registration number AT 033. Turtle Island combines a scientifically operated conservation breeding station with attractive, modern exhibits of living animals, combining landscape design, creative arts, research, education and recreation.

We are presently developing a worldwide unique research and breeding center – internationally recognized and acknowledged.

Presently, we maintain 110 turtle species and subspecies in our existing facilities.

Get an idea about the dedicated people who stand behind our cause.

Peter Praschag about turtles

Video, Zoo Schönbrunn (Vienna)

The Founder & Patrons of Turtle Island

Peter Praschag

Peter Praschag

Founder of Turtle Island


Masters and Doctor of Natural Science, Zoologist

Study of Biology and Zoology at the Karl-Franzens-University of Graz. Masters thesis and Ph.D. dissertation completed on ecology, taxonomy and phylogeny of South Asian turtles.

Curator and Field Research Biologist at the Behler Chelonion Center in Ojai, California. Conservation Biologist for solar energy projects and military training grounds in California and Nevada.

Member of the Freshwater Turtle and Tortoise Specialist Group/International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Member of the Field Conservation Committee and Scientific Adviser to the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)

Focus of research: taxonomy, conservation genetics of turtles, linking of ex– and in-situ conservation measures. Lecturer at the Karl-Franzens University, Scientific Consultant for various wildlife documentary films and television productions.

Reiner Praschag

Reiner Praschag

Founder of Turtle Island


Dipl.Ing. Dr.techn., Architekt

Doctor of Engineering, Architect. Studied Architecture at the Technical University Graz. Masters thesis on Zoo Architecture. Ph.D. dissertation on aquarium and terrarium construction. The Nobel Prize winner Prof. Konrad Lorenz, one of his supervisors, remained a professional consultant until his death in 1989.

He is a judicially certified expert for Structural Engineering and Zoology (captive husbandry of all animals) as well as a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) authorized expert for the protection of species.

In over 40 years, he has built up one of the world’s largest and most important turtle collections with over 100 species in Graz, and is supported by his son Peter.

Many species in their collection are threatened today and are important assurance colonies for their long-term survival.


Doctor of Natural Science, Director of the Vienna Zoo

The promotion of the idea of conservation, creation of a higher nature, environmental awareness, active participation and accomplishment of nature and wildlife conservation projects are today a central concern of zoos. Vienna Zoo is involved in national and international conservation projects for endangered species, including the native European Pond Turtle and one of the world’s rarest turtle species, the Batagur River Turtle.

Cooperation with other organizations and experts is the basis for sustainable success. Reiner and Peter Praschag are such experts – probably THE turtle specialists of the world over! For many years, they have invested their knowledge and money in the protection of endangered turtles in the wild as well as by keeping and breeding in their private homes.

Turtle Island provides the public with the opportunity to get to know the largest and most attractive but, unfortunately, also often the most vulnerable turtle species. Today, everyone should be concerned with species conservation, and turtles are great sympathy-evoking mascots. We can only protect what we know! And it is our duty to grab each chance to win allies and collaborators for the preservation of our biodiversity.

We wish Reiner and Peter Praschag good luck with their great and ambitious project and will provide all possible support.

Dagmar Schratter

Dagmar Schratter

Patron of Turtle Island


Professor, Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine, former Director of the Alpine Zoo of Innsbruck and the Vienna Zoo, Honorary President of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Austria

His work has been dedicated to zoos and other scientifically-derived breeding stations, striving for the preservation of endangered species through breeding, research, and public education. This applies especially to animals which are at risk or are extirpated from their natural habitat.

More than 90 years ago, 11 specimens of the Przewalski’s horse existed in zoological gardens, and in the wild none survived. After breeding and re-introduction in China and Mongolia, beginning 20 years ago, this species is no longer considered threatened. There are dozens of similar successes to report;e.g., turtles in Australia, caimans in South America to the alpine ibex and bearded vultures in our Alpine world.

It is a godsend for the protection of species that father and son Praschag, both acknowledged experts for breeding rare turtles species, are willing to share their animals with the public in Graz, and at the same time, comply with the tasks and challenges of modern zoos, recreation areas for education, research and nature, and animal and wildlife conservation.

The present project is fascinating and deserves support from all. It provides a unique attraction for the citizens and guests of the city of Graz.

Helmut Pechlaner

Helmut Pechlaner

Patron of Turtle Island