Our Team.

Our Team.

We operate on a global scale.

Our international ‘TURTLE ISLAND Team’ is doing introductions. Different reasons have brought us together and a common purpose unites us.

Ph. D.  Peter PRASCHAG
Founder of Turtle Island, 
Board of Directors

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.

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Dipl.Ing. Dr.  Reiner PRASCHAG
Founder of Turtle Island, 
Board of Directors

Studied Architecture at the Technical University Graz. Masters thesis on Zoo Architecture. Ph.D. dissertation on aquarium and terrarium construction. 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.

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Dr. med. vet. Shannon DIRUZZO
Board of Directors

Shannon received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2001.  After vet school, she moved to Alaska where she established Alaska Veterinary Relief Services, LLC, practicing veterinary medicine at numerous urban and rural clinics and The Alaska Zoo.

Board of Directors

Dr. Olek started his career in the life sciences at Imperial College, followed by PhD studies in the department of Prof. Thomas Trautner. He is the author of tens of patents and highly ranked scientific publications, was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001 and “Gründer des Jahres” (Founder of the Year) in 2002.

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Team, Zoological Curator

Julia has a degree in Biology, focusing on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Since 2013, she has devoted herself to all of the animals at Turtle Island. 

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Team, Zoo Keeper in training

I am currently in training as a Zoo Keeper at Turtle Island and could not be happier. I now have the privilege of caring for these wonderful animals every day!

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Rupali GOSH

Rupali graduated from Calcutta University with a degree in Bio-Science.She is presently working with the Vienna Zoo for Project Batagur. 


As a Biology student, I always had an overwhelming love for animals, whether with fur, scales or shells. As such it is a great honor for me to be able to support an organization like Turtle Island. Right now, I am a part of the web design team.


Tiere spielten schon immer eine wichtige Rolle in meinem Leben. Als ich mit Anfang 30 die Schildkröten meiner Kindheit übernommen habe, wurden diese Tiere zu einer großen Passion. Mein Ziel ist die jeweils artgerechte Haltung, ganz egal, was es an Aufwand verursacht. Seit vielen Monaten halte ich einige tropische Wasser- und Landschildkröten als Einstelltiere für Turtle Island.

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Herbert BECKER
Advisory Board

Since as early as I can remember I have been occupied with the care and breeding of numerous turtle species. I focused on North American turtles, specifically Glyptemys insculta, Clemmys guttata and musk turtles (Sternotherus).

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Torsten BLANCK
Advisory Board

East Asia is his focus of field research. His goal is to be able to have viewed every single East Asian species in the wild. Currently, the main focus is on the field detection of Cuora zhoui, the rarest Cuora species that is known since 1990 to science, but never could be recorded from the wild so far.

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Richard GEMEL
Advisory Board

Born in Vienna, Richard studied Biology and Physical Education at the University of Vienna.In his early years, he developed a strong interest in amphibians and reptiles. During one of his trips, he and Peter Praschag found a turtle shell in Assam. This turtle turned out to be a new species and was named Cyclemys gemeli in honor of him.

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Gregory GEORGE
Advisory Board

After a career as a zoo and aquarium Herpetologist and a lifelong field study of reptiles and amphibians, Gregory George established Gregory George Designs, LLC. He specializes in the design and fabrication of naturalistic habitats for amphibians, reptiles, fish and small mammals.

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Advisory Board

I received a university degree in business management (M.B.A.) in Cologne. Since 1995, I have been working with turtles. Currently,  I deal in particular with the breeding of South African tortoise species, Homopus, Chersina and Psammobates.

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Ph.D. Brian D. HORNE
Advisory Board

Brian completed his Ph.D. at Ohio University, studying the developmental biology of Neotropical freshwater turtles. Brian currently coordinates the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) global tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation programs. 

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Advisory Board

Specifically in recent years, Till has focused on captive breeding of wild endangered turtles, native species and giant salamanders.

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Waltraud PAULER
Advisory Board

I placed most of our turtles on a breeding loan to Turtle Island because I am convinced that Turtle Island has the capacity to successfully breed endangered turtles, which will contribute to their conservation.

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M.D., Ph.D. Walter SACHSSE
Advisory Board

For many years I was a Professor of Genetics / Biology and a M.D. specialist for internal medicine; I am now retired. My main goals have always been and will continue to be reproduction biology, and to guarantee this physiology and medicine.

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Roland ZIRBS
Advisory Board

 I care for and treat all turtles with the same dedication and commitment.

In my opinion, turtles have the intense olfactory sensitivity of snakes and the intelligence of birds. We are dealing with a very sophisticated group of animals.

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Since Rainer was a child, reptiles and especially turtles have been his favorite animals. He is equipped with all conceivable tools of all sizes and uses them in his spare time for projects of all kinds.

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Franz HÖDL

Franz was involved in every aspect of the Botanical Garden in Graz until his retirement. Because retirement is not in his nature (vocabulary), he has taken over all technical tasks at Turtle Island and become a specialist in filtration, pumping technology, and heating.

Fundraising / Back Office

Text coming soon.

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