After 30 Years, The Turtle & Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande Closes Its Doors
August 8, 2018
The Turtle & Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande, a place for displaced and unwanted chelonians in Central California, is closing its doors after 30 years taking in reptiles that had no other place to go.
Bob Thomas, who cared for thousands of turtles and tortoises over the 30 years his sanctuary was open, told KSBY.com that he was just too old to continue.
"I've been doing this for 30 years and I'm too old anymore to do it," Thomas told KSBY.com. Thomas, who has been keeping reptiles since he was just five years old. He began caring for people's abandoned and unwanted pets when a state park ranger suggested that he give talks with his reptile at the local library.
"That was a mistake because immediately people were like 'oh you know more about turtles than we do, you can have mine.' And in three years I went from my few three different species up to 85 animals."
Keeping all those animals was a challenge for Thomas, so he went to Long Beach, CA to learn how to care for animals from a man who was proficient in animal rescue. He then worked with another man in Ojai, CA and learned how that man kept his rescue running, learning about property habitat and care. Thomas, KSBY.com said, returned to the Central Coast and looked for an ideal location to start his rescue, and found five acres in Arroyo Grande. He then built his house and started working on enclosures for the rescued reptiles.
The Turtle & Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande rehomed hundreds of tortoises each year.
"It seems as fast as I could get a pen built I'd have another animal," Thomas said. "In about five more years I was up to about 350, and I was giving away anything from 100 to 300 a year."
It's rewarding to be able to take care of the animals and then actually see the turtles and tortoise come running to me because they know I'm their caregiver," Thomas said.
Thomas then opened his rescue up to other animals, including parrots, goats, even alpacas. In the 30 years that The Turtle & Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande was opened, Thomas says that he rescued about 5,000 animals. But he has no regrets about closing down his rescue.
'It's rewarding to be able to take care of the animals and then actually see the turtles and tortoise come running to me because they know I'm their caregiver," Thomas said."