Internship at Desert Tortoise Conservation Center

Our student interns help desert tortoise conservation in a big way!

Our student interns help desert tortoise conservation in a big way!

Throughout 2012, the staff at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center worked with students from a local high school, West Career & Tech Academy (see Students Help Desert Tortoises). The students were very interested in science and receiving hands-on experience, and we were happy to help out any way we could to expose the students to real-world experiences and to gain a little help of our own. West Tech started an internship program and asked us to participate; we, of course, were happy to help and keep the partnership alive. We thought of a number of projects the interns could work on and found the perfect fit. Our first interns, Gendie Gonzales and Cheyenne Taylor, were interested in participating in duties at the DTCC, but since it’s winter here, we had to come up with an indoor project that would benefit all.

The sample-filled tubes await organizing.

The sample-filled tubes are organized and banked, thanks to our interns.

An experienced biologist had collected over 4,000 biological samples (such as plasma, red plasma, red blood cells, ticks, and oral swabs) from desert tortoises at various Mojave Desert sites over the past summer. We needed help banking or organizing all the sample-filled tubes that were in plastic bags with a date on them when given to us. Banking these important samples is not an easy task and takes a lot of time and meticulous effort to ensure no mistakes are made. These samples are important, because they will be around for a long time and will help give us invaluable information about wild desert tortoise genetics and health.

The internship is a great way to give students a look into a career in conservation biology and give us a helping hand at the DTCC. We look forward to the continuing partnership in 2013!

Angie Covert is a research coordinator at the San Diego Zoo Desert Tortoise Conservation Center. Read her previous post, Promoting Desert Tortoise Care.

4 Responses to Internship at Desert Tortoise Conservation Center

  1. What kind of background experience are you looking for to hire someone as an intern on this and similar projects?

    • We normally take college students that are in a biology program. They work on site (Las Vegas) during the season, which is March-October.

  2. Excuse me? I cannot understand why over a thousand Desert Turtles are going to be put to sleep!?
    The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center is closing it’s Doors…Why can’t people Adopt a Turtle?
    I want to adopt Two! so they mate. Seriously? How can private Citizens Adopt a Turtle?

    San Diego Zoo Global responds: We remain committed to the conservation of the desert tortoise and are continuing our efforts to learn about this endangered species. Thousands of tortoises have been brought to the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center over the last several years. The animal care staff at the Center evaluate each tortoise to determine species (not all of the tortoises brought to the Center are the desert tortoise species native to North America), body condition, and health. Most of these tortoises are rehabilitated to a point where they can be released or placed into an adoption program. In cases where a tortoise’s health is severely compromised, sometimes the difficult decision to euthanize is made.

    Although staff at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center have been working to care for the thousands of tortoises that have been brought to them, the primary goal of the Center is the conservation of the species through research efforts. In 2013, the Center announced that it would not take in additional pet tortoises so that it can focus on its efforts to conserve the species in the wild. Local humane organizations have taken on the challenge of working to find homes for unwanted tortoise pets.

  3. You’re bringing in Interns, doing all sorts of scientific research, and yet you cannot afford to feed and take care of them therefore you have to euthanize “at least half of the tortoises”. This does not make any sense. Plus, as far as I know the BLM is doing just fine thank you given the amount of money they receive from various leasing deals from large livestock interests, drilling, water use etc etc etc. There is something more going on with this deal: perhaps the land that the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center is located on has become valuable real estate? The real estate market in Las Vegas is moving up again and I just don’t buy this “we don’t have enough money coming in to support the center”. $1,000,000 a YEAR! I don’t believe it costs that much to feed and shelter tortoises, since I’ve owned some and no matter HOW much they eat….. scientific research and internships should take a back seat if it comes down to choosing where to dedicate the funds. Tortoise bacteria may be interesting, but loss of habitat and human encroachment is definitely a more “pressing issue”. What’s really going on here?
    Giulia

    San Diego Zoo Global responds: We remain committed to the conservation of the desert tortoise and are continuing our efforts to learn about this endangered species. Thousands of tortoises have been brought to the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center over the last several years. The animal care staff at the Center evaluate each tortoise to determine species (not all of the tortoises brought to the Center are the desert tortoise species native to North America), body condition, and health. Most of these tortoises are rehabilitated to a point where they can be released or placed into an adoption program. In cases where a tortoise’s health is severely compromised, sometimes the difficult decision to euthanize is made.

    Although staff at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center have been working to care for the thousands of tortoises that have been brought to them, the primary goal of the Center is the conservation of the species through research efforts. In 2013, the Center announced that it would not take in additional pet tortoises so that it can focus on its efforts to conserve the species in the wild. Local humane organizations have taken on the challenge of working to find homes for unwanted tortoise pets.