Zoo and Conservation Breeding Center


    Zoo and Conservation Breeding Center


    Zoo and Conservation Breeding Center


    Zoo and Conservation Breeding Center


Presently all of our turtles are housed in two sites in Graz, however, because both are located in private facilities unfortunately neither is accessible to the public.  One of our temporary holding facilities, a detached family house on the outskirts of Graz, has been generously provided by the Mayor’s Office.  Due to our temporary housing situation, we are doing our best with the limited space and recources for the turtles and so are unable to welcome visitors at this time.

However, even with these limited and cramped resources we are caring for 125 turtle species and subspecies.  And even though the conditions are less than optimal for the turtles, we are already notching up some great successes.  Despite the difficulties we have been able to successfully breed species that are on the edge of extinction.  We have also achieved world firsts by breeding species that have never before been bred in captivity.  For the benefit of all of our turtles, we are now in the final stages of planning for the construction of a modern facility that will showcase our collection.  As well as being invaluable for future research, Turtle Island will become a unique attraction for both local visitors and international tourists who come to Austria’s beautiful province of Styria.  We are still in the process of trying to finalize funding options so we can commence work on this project.

The time is ripe for a conservation based modern Zoo in Graz. If you are interested in the project and want to get involved please contact us at: office@turtle-island.at

Turtle Island is a scientific institution that is recognised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW) with the registration number AT 033.  Additionally we are recognised as a rescue centre so we can take care of both rescued and confiscated reptiles as well as an animal shelter for turtles.


Here we proudly present the details of our project that have been refined over many years.  Our aim is to combine a breeding center for the conservation of turtles along with a modern attraction for visitors so that we can create a global and unique focal point for turtles, for turtle experts and for turtle lovers everywhere.

The full information brochure can be downloaded here: PDF brochure


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Species Survivial Commision (SSC) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group listed the Top 25 most endangered species of tortoises and freshwater turtles in the world.  Additionally, they launched conservation measurements in-situ (in their natural habitat) and assurance colonies in captivity. Of these 25 species listed, we have 10 in our collection! These species will be the heart of our project. 

Turtle Island will combine a scientifically operated conservation breeding station with attractive, modern exhibits of living animals, combining landscape design, creative arts, research, education and recreation.


Turtles are the most threatened vertebrate group with 57% either extinct or threatened with extinction, followed by the amphibians with 40% of their total species considered endangered.

Our project is an ex-situ (outside their natural habitat) protection measure for highly endangered species. For species with very few survivors, a managed breeding program with expert human care is the only way to preserve the species for the future. It is highly recommended that several assurance breeding groups outside the country of origin be  established to reduce the risk of disasters, such as threat due to political unrest, disease, climate change or fatal human development of their habitat. A goal of Turtle Island is to expand our already existing network in cooperation with other ex-situ institutions at home and abroad, and further relations and support for in-situ projects.


In addition to the focus on turtles, it is our mission to inform visitors about the vulnerability of our local wildlife. Here, we want to introduce the local wildlife and the seasonal patterns that exist right outside our doors. To perform this task, we will create an area to ensure optimal habitats for indigenous species.


Knowlege of various species and the degree to which they are endangered is fundamental to nature conservation.  Understanding the diversity of the species through systematic, taxonomic and genetic research is also fundamental to efficient protective measures.

With international cooperation, we have scientifically researched the diversity of turtles and tortoises. In addition, the study of animals in human care provides important biological and ecological insights that can be implemented in their country of origin. The founder of Turtle Island has several decades of expertise in this area. The revenue we have will support and initiate field surveys and turtle habitat projects in the countries of origin as well as create awareness in local communities.


The founder of modern zoo biology, Biology Professor Heini Hediger, believes a zoo plays an important role in the human’s deep-rooted quest for nature, particularly in urban areas. “Such institutions serve the mental health of stressed yuppies [people living in big cities]” (Hallisey 1977). Turtle Island offers visitors the opportunity to relax, rest and observe nature at its best, in a natural setting, thereby nurturing the human quest.

In addition to being a scientific facility, we want to demonstrate the historic and religious symbolism of this ancient animal and its integration into the psyche of people throughout the world since the beginning of recorded time.


One of Turtle Island’s primary missions is to create environmental awareness. Understanding the threat to the world’s fragile ecosystem and its creatures is integral to their protection. Special children’s programs will be developed; i.e., a Petting Zoo, which will allow children to connect with the animals; an Indian Village and a Zoo School, where children will have an opportunity to explore and learn about these amazing animals, their history and the environmental challenges they face.


Children will have an opportunity to learn the history of primitive cultures through art projects developed in a natural landscape. They will be able to live out their creativity and playfully acquire old knowledge of primitive cultures.


Turtle Island will be delineated according to climate zones. This classification system helps  visitors orient themselves, teaches geography and saves on operating costs.  Each climate zone requires specific architecture and materials to express the appearance of the targeted environment (e.g., water, landscape, green belt, sun orientation). Optimim environment for animals and plants requires a largely transparent roof so that the interior produces natural day/night cycles: sunshine, twilight, moonlight, etc. Being largely constructed of windows, extensive greening of the facades occurs, thereby optimally integrating the buildings into the surrounding greenery.

Inside, the visitor’s area must be sufficiently separated from the animals so that sound is minimized. The desired breeding of rare species requires very specific structural provisions for segregation, mating, egg laying, incubation and rearing.

As a pilot project on a smaller scale, we will initially construct a glass house to simulate a subtropical zone.  The subtropical climate is characterized by hot summer temperatures and moderate lower temperatures experienced during winter and evenings. An advantage to this construction is that visitors can enjoy and observe resident animals and plants year-round. Most of the species for this project currently live in our private collection in Graz.  Since the climate is similar to ours, expenses will be minimal to maintain optimal temperatures.


For acutely endangered turtle species, unique breeding groups have already been established in Graz. We are currently collaborating with the Vienna Zoo and several zoological organizations abroad, particularly in the United States and South Asia. Every successful breeding of a species on the brink of extinction is a sensation in both the media and the international community.


The project area is located in Graz, the capital of Styria. With a population of 267,794 (as of April 1, 2012), it is the second largest city in the Republic of Austria.

The city is located on the River Mur in the Graz basin. The greater Graz area with its 57 surrounding municipalities, totalling 408,000 residents, is second to Vienna with the second most populated area in Austria.


Turtle Island, Graz


Peter Praschag about turtles … Video, at Zoo Schönbrunn (Vienna)


What other people think of Turtle Island …

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.

Dr. Dagmar SCHRATTERDirector of the Vienna Zoo

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 …

Dr. Helmut PECHLANERHonorary President of WWF, Austria


In order to accomplish our mission of saving the world’s most endangered turtles species from extinction we depend on our sponsors. Every donation and every contribution is welcome. THANK YOU!