June 8, 2009
Wash. family to keep endangered turtle
Washington state officials say a family will be allowed to keep their pet, a rare western pond turtle, but the animal will be owned by the state of California.
Barry Mason of Ridgefield and his wife Chae Yon said their family adopted the turtle when they encountered it as a baby 21 years ago while camping in Northern California. They said the turtle apparently was taken from their home during a birthday party for their son, Shon, in April, The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian reported Monday.
The reptile turned up in May at a pet store in Hazel Dell, Wash., but the family ran into an obstacle while reclaiming their beloved Mr. Turtle -- his species is endangered.
Washington wildlife officials wrote Mason that it has decided to allow the family to keep the turtle under a few strict conditions: The animal will belong to the state of California, it cannot be transferred to another family without the department's approval, and its final resting spot after its death will be determined by California and Washington wildlife officials.
Officials said they took into account the amount of time Mr. Turtle has spent in captivity, as well as its special connection to Mason's son, Chol, who died of complications from a transfusion of HIV-positive blood a few years after he and his brother discovered him.
We are making this exception due to the circumstances regarding the captive history and care for this turtle since 1988, the department said in a letter to Mason.