Better than Zoo – Turtle Reproduction Center

While doing a research for my book about Edutainment I am trying to visit interesting places where you can spend your recreational time and also learn something new.

Animal Sanctuaries are one of such places. They are way better than Zoo since most of them work on reproducing or protecting the population of particular species of animals, rescuing them, provide housing for old or injured animals which otherwise would be thrown away or killed. Educating public, as well as doing various scientific researches and environmental programs. So by visiting such places you help by supporting the good deeds and learn a lot about the environment and animals.

One of such places is CRT l’Albera in Catalonia, Spain. It’s a small Reproduction center which you can walk over in about an hour. The center specializes in breeding of Hermann’s Tortoise, which is the last natural population in this area. They breed them for 2 years when their shell become strong enough, and then release them in the Albera natural park.
(Huge wildlife territory). They grow about 300 to 500 turtles each year.

By walking around you can find out a lot about turtles, for example I had no clue that some of the species are carnivorous, and can eat fish, birds and other small animals. Also because of the trade, deforestation, and wild fires they are are now on the edge of the extinction. And fires is a huge problem for turtles, since they are not fast enough to escape it.

During the walk I’ve noticed that there are some exotic species, at first I tough it’s like a zoo feature, they probably got some interesting species just for a showcase, making visiting more interesting. But it turned out that they receive exotic turtles which were either abandoned, escaped or confiscated. And actually during our visit some people come with a boxes and brought new turtles in. Have a look at the pictures, it’s actually a turtle inside the Adidas shoe box 🙂

They found them in their backyard, it’s local Hermann’s Tortoises which are protected by law in Catalonia, and you can’t keep or buy them.

I’ve made a short video of our walk around to get the idea about the center.
If you are around Catalonia, that’s one of the spot you should visit.
Entrance fee is 6 euros, which is more like donation, since they rely a lot on donations, and it’s better to go in the morning when turtles are more active.
More info here.


I am musician and video maker, trying to understand how can we create more sane and equal world for everyone. I write books and blogs, support various projects like TROM. My main area of interest is entertainment industry, especially edutainment and social impact activities.

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Sober Pirate

I am musician and video maker, trying to understand how can we create more sane and equal world for everyone. I write books and blogs, support various projects like TROM. My main area of interest is entertainment industry, especially edutainment and social impact activities.

19 thoughts on “Better than Zoo – Turtle Reproduction Center

  1. Oh, this is nice!! “I like turwdles”… haha.
    I hate zoos but this is the opposite of a zoo, judging from your article, video and pictures 🙂

  2. Whilst I’m sure the sanctuary means well, they’re causing more suffering by breeding them into existence only for humans benefit. Tortoises aren’t concerned about the success of their future genes going into the future, humans are.

    A real sanctuary should only help animals in need, NOT breed more into existence for humans benefit!

    1. What do you mean they are kept alive for “human benefit”? And why is that bad? Maybe there is a lot to learn from them being alive. Maybe they are part of an ecosystem and if they disappear other species of plants or animals will too.

      1. It’s preferable to discontinue breeding as you can objectively measure the suffering caused due to people having a selfish savior complex.

        The breeding program is not in the interest of the tortoise, nor is learning from them. Also see my reply below.

        1. I’ve read your replies but I still don’t understand two things:

          1. How do you know these creatures are suffering and what do you mean by that? I am talking about the above case.

          2. Why do you think there is nothing for us to gain from this regardless if we make them suffer or not? I mean, testing drugs on animals was for sure a huge help for humans despite being so awful and we should move to testing human tissue in the lab or other methods, but it was still a great help.

          1. 1, Simple observational studies have been carried out such as cutting a limb off and their behavior changes, give them painkillers and they respond? Reptiles have all the anatomy to feel pain and suffer just as we would with the likes of disease, starvation, dehydration and general predation…

            2, Not that this breeding program has anything to do with drug testing or the point I’m making. This what about-ism was helpful at the animals expense years ago when medicine was in it’s primitive stages, now days all drugs have to be successfully tested on human subjects before being used and the underlying chemistry is better understood to skip testing on animals and I think 95% of drug trials from animal to humans fails on the first round of human trials. So not a great help…

          2. 1. I still don’t get how you know the turtles from this center are suffering. You mean they are suffering after they are released? I dont get it

            2. How do you know there isnt a good reason behind what these people are doing? And in the end, even if thats only for the volunteers’ pleasure, what is the problem in doing this? 🙂

    2. Hmm, interesting statement, but it’s your own perspective of what should or should not humans do.
      With such position we shouldn’t care about environment too, and many other things.

      Since we are responsible for this turtle extinction I think it’s quite fair that we also trying to correct our mistakes.
      And biodiversity it’s not only for human benefit, all creatures have very complicated chain in the nature. By removing those turtles for example, in a few years time we might lose for red foxes who rely on small turtles or their eggs or other species, then other species, then the forest itself might change and so on.

      1. I’ve not attended the “sanctuary” but from what I’ve read these tortoises have a weak gene pool so not only do they grow slower and much smaller than their cousins they have weak immune systems making the susceptible to various diseases, easy predation or humans imprisoning them as pets.(that’s why they let them grow two years before sending them to their deaths).

        To combat this they’ve started cross breeding them to try and increase the gene pool by capturing and or breeding with their cousins, despite this the numbers are still in decline in the wild.

        So not only is this tortoise going to be a different breed eventually, it’s not working! They’ll keep blindly accepting donations and inviting tourists and the shit show will just continue.

        This goes for all animals, be it pandas, elephants, rhinos, lions or tortoises. If we’ve fucked their environments stop breeding them into existence just to suffer so we humans have something to look at, no zoos no nothing(The animals don’t even contemplate their species future).

        1. Where exactly you got the information about “weak gene pool” and various diseases ? I think it’s just your assumptions.
          After the release turtles continue breeding and mating in the wild, creating new generations with “wild species” in a new gene pool.

          They keep them at least 2 years for their shell to become stronger, so that wild animals can’t eat them. Before that they shell is to soft. That’s the reason.
          Well, about inviting tourists you probably don’t really know what you re talking about, just look a their website whcih haven’t been updated for years, such places are super UNPOPULAR among tourists, and they not even trying to promote it to the tourists. people are more willing to go and see how wild animals doing tricks like a bear riding a bicycle in circus and so on. As the owner of the sanctuary said, most of their visitors are group of kids from schools. Sanctuaries are surviving only because of some enthusiasts working for nothing, and volunteers. It’s not a business, they need money to sustain, not profit. And it’s a huge difference between entertainment with animals, which poses unnatural behavior for animals just to entertain consumers, get attention, sell shit, make money.

          Sanctuaries who educate, pointing out the problem, and trying to do something in real world.

          They breed them not because “so that humans have something to look at” but to keep the biodiversity. As really not many people come there and look at them 🙂 Most people don’t care.

          I really suggest you to visit any of your local sanctuaries, to get better idea.

          1. I’ll accept I’ve not researched this in depth but the information I shared isn’t made up:

            I did generalise this “sanctuary”(by definition they’re not a sanctuary as they’re breeding animals) with others in regards to appealing for donations/tourists but them having low foot traffic doesn’t take away from my point as it seems the shit show will continue regardless as it has done for the past 30+ years.

            “biodiversity though” isn’t really helping your argument as the program isn’t working with human intervention in the form of breeding thousands of animals into existence to be death marched back out of it painfully.

          2. Ok, maybe it’s my mistake by calling it sanctuary here, officially it is called “Turtle reproduction center”. Since they also take care of the injured and confiscated animals, I guess it’s also sanctuary, but mainly reproduction center.

            I just don’t get your position, you are attacking someone who is trying to fix problems caused by other humans. In my personal view it’s better then do nothing, that’s why I highlight such places. You may disagree of course. But I think it’s better to do something, than nothing, or to idealize how it would be to live in a resource based economy, or trade free world, or some other better and sane system, or preach how everything wrong and everything is fucked. These guys are doing something, while we here discussing them.

            All I want to tell is that, such centers are better than zoo or other entertainment and profit based places where people spend their time. People will entertain themselves in any case, and I wanted to suggest better alternative, that’s it.

          3. My position isn’t to attack but to critique what you’ve positioned as only a net positive.

            If we consider suffering as something to avoid they’re creating plenty of suffering in the form of thousands animal lives based on nothing more than subjective morals. They’re not fixing anything, in this case it would be best to do nothing and stop the suffering.

            They’ve been doing this for 30+ years and it’s unsuccessful as they’re not integrating into the ecosystem, breeding/surviving independently.

            I’m also objectively thinking very much in terms of real world and I’m not just moaning about everything being fucked, on the other hand what world is this breeding center living in?

            When you state biodiversity, what do you mean? is the ecosystem going to collapse if they stop breeding tortoises, I doubt it?

          4. Thank you for expressing your critique.
            Not sure if the aim of this center to avoid suffering. They just trying to keep the population going, for what ever reasons they might have.
            Life is a suffering, in one form or in another. Should we do nothing?
            If you think that reproduction center is not effective, well, you are free to came up with any other idea and make it work.

            But to point out that doing nothing is better, in my mind a bit hypocritical, (it’s my subjective opinion), but its we-humans who make them extinct, and I guess it’s fair if we will also could came up with solutions to fix it, or at least improve the situation. Their life is not even close to the suffering.

            You may argue, it’s not effective, and not working, and that’s ok, but then suggest and even better make something more effective instead of stating to do nothing.

            My perspective about this article are “humans” and how we spend our free time, instead of mindless entertainment it’s better to learn something about the world we live.

          5. Yes humans are the number one cause for species extinction but once the environment doesn’t support an organism we shouldn’t be breeding more into existence as the environment doesn’t support it. As you said “life is suffering”, so why should we impose it on others in these conditions?

            The goal of the breeding facility for sure isn’t to reduce suffering as it wouldn’t function, it’s to make themselves feel better, like they’re doing something but in the grand scheme of things just making things objectively(suffering) worse.

            When I said they’re better off in this case to do nothing, I mean stop breeding the tortoises and actually function as a simple sanctuary as that would objectively be preferential by reduced suffering and let the tortoises in the wild run their course.

            Biodiversity loss is not the same as an ecosystem collapsing, whilst I would prefer nothing to suffer or go extinct, if the environment doesn’t support them then let that organism be. That’s not to say continue fucking up the environment…

            I agree we could utilise our time more effectively, although that’s subjective and it’s hard to ascribe what people ought to do unless it causes harm/suffering to others.

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