The Tortoise Clan


Tortoises who come to the The Kerulos Center’s Tortoise and The Hare Sanctuary previously were injured or were former “pets” with limb loss or deformities as a result of poor care and abuse.


Tortoise with missing limb.

Click image to learn more about Tortoises.

Despite their special needs, the Tortoises are intelligent and regal, with many years ahead of them to enjoy full and loving lives. According to Dr. Erich Jarvis, Duke University Neurosciences and School of Medicine,


A reptile brain is analogous to a bird brain and both are analogous to mammalian brains which implies that reptiles may have parallel capacities to think, feel, experience consciousness, and related abilities to mentally function.


Species differences are more akin to the level of cultural differences. The group of adult females, “teenagers,” and adult males will live mainly in outdoor enclosed habitats with specially-constructed burrows for most of the year. In the winter, they will be housed in Je t’attendrai, their indoor quarters which are temperature- and humidity-controlled.


Je t’attendrai (French for “I will wait for you”) is what we will do—wait for the Tortoises while they dream Tortoise dreams during brumation, the reptile’s version of hibernation. [LEARN MORE]


Watch Tortoise habitat disappear around Las Vegas in this time-lapse satellite imagery (1984-2012)


Our Advisors


We are fortunate to have guidance from internationally recognized Tortoise experts, Don Williams, California Turtle and Tortoise Club, and Dave Friend, Ojai Sulcata Project.


Don Williams with two hatchlings born September 11, 2013.

Don Williams with two hatchlings born September 11, 2013.

Dave Friend, California Turtle and Tortoise Club, with his Sulcatas.

Dave Friend, Ojai Sulcata Project, with his Sulcatas.


A Model of Collaboration


The Tortoises have inspired a unique collaborative effort that has brought conservation scientists and animal protection professionals together in a single purpose—to save the Tortoises!


Our Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) residents hail from the Nevada-based Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC), a government facility created to fully recover the Mojave Desert Tortoise population that has been decimated by urbanization, increased human population, and habitat damage. Over just the past 30 years, Tortoise numbers have plummeted by 90%.


The DTCC has served as a primary recipient of displaced, injured, relinquished, and abandoned “pet” tortoises from Clark County, NV. Those who were able to regain full health and capacity were reintroduced into their native wild. Some have been held for research and breeding purposes to replenish free-living communities.


The DTCC consortium draws from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and the San Diego Zoo. Representatives from these organizations as well as The Humane Society of the United States have worked diligently with us to ensure these ancient domed ones can live the rest of their lives in peace and security.


Roy Averill-Murray

Roy Averill-Murray, Desert Tortoise Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Christine Mullen

Christine Mullen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Desert Tortoise Recovery Office.



Dave Pauli

Dave Pauli, Senior Adviser Wildlife Response and Policy, The Humane Society of The United States.

Lori Scott

Lori Scott, Research Associate, San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research.



Angie Covert

Angie Covert, Senior Research Coordinator, San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research.






















Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause. — Brice Feiler