This segment is scheduled to air Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.
For the last 25 years, desert tortoises have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Urbanization, disease, and fragmentation of the desert have helped put these reptiles into danger, sparking concern among conservationists and preservationists. And these days, you're more likely to find a desert tortoise living in a suburban backyard than the desert, their natural habitat.
Don Williams has been studying and caring for tortoises for 15 years as part of the California Turtle & Tortoise Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the continued education and conservation of desert tortoises.
In just three years, he's rescued 591 adult desert tortoises and 180 baby tortoises. Releasing captive tortoises back into the wild not only exposes wild turtles to dangerous diseases, it's illegal. So through the club, people can adopt desert tortoises after going through an extensive backyard screening process to ensure a safe environment for these reptiles that would have territories of up to 60 acres in the wild.
In this segment of "SoCal Connected," reporter Nick Hardcastle chats with the California Turtle & Tortoise Club about the process involved with tortoise adoption, and visits the home of a SoCal family that has recently adopted Rocky, a 25-year-old desert tortoise.