Who/what is Garden State Tortoise? Garden State Tortoise is New Jersey's very own, private facility dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the world's turtles and tortoises. Owned and operated by the Leone family, GST is a 100% family-based entity with no ties to any major corporation or business. We serve as a breeding facility, rescue and sanctuary for these animals. We are also directly involved in conservation.
Where exactly is Garden State Tortoise located? Garden State Tortoise is located along the southern coast of New Jersey (hence the name "Garden State.."). We do not give out our exact, personal address in order to protect our privacy.
Is Garden State Tortoise open to the public? We are not open to the public for several reasons. For one, this is where we raise our family and we aim to keep our home private so our children can experience some normalcy instead of being directly in the public eye. We also do not carry insurance to allow foot traffic on our premises and NJ happens to be a "no contact state" when it comes to wildlife and the public. Lastly, to protect our collection of animals, we do not allow any traffic aside from friends and family. Theft is a very real threat for animal collections and we will stop at nothing to ensure their safety, as well as our own.
Does Garden State Tortoise sell turtles and tortoises? Yes, we proudly do because we firmly believe that the preservation of this threatened and endangered group of vertebrates is one of the only legitimate ways they can be saved from eventual extinction. In present day, man has made his mark on probably every last wild space there is on planet Earth. Turtles, tortoises, and all other wildlife have little left to call a safe home. In combination with the conservation of both the animals and their wild habitats, it is through the act of responsible captive breeding that we can truly ensure they will be here to stay. Captive breeding can also lessen the pressure on wild populations of species by reducing the need or want to poach them. Building, encroachment, and habitat loss may never fully end but we can make an actual difference by understanding that it takes more than one side to truly save any animal species. Garden State Tortoise is not a pet store, animal hoarding house or inhumane situation for these creatures. Instead, it is a family run facility powered by a deep love and an undying passion for turtles, tortoises and wildlife. The sale of our animals helps to prolong both our conservation and preservation efforts while solidifying the existence of them as a whole. Anyone willing to provide for them, love them, teach others about them and never stop learning about them deserves a chance to work with them and be hands on in protecting their ultimate fate. It cannot just be done by picking up a candy wrapper, buying a piece of land or by stopping the use of plastic. It also cannot be done by just breeding them. It takes every piece of the puzzle.
What types of turtles and tortoises does Garden State Tortoise breed? While we do have focal species groups such as those native to New Jersey and the tortoises of the Mediterranean, we maintain a vast collection of species from all over the world. Visit our Instagram, Facebook or YouTube accounts to get a closer look at the amazing world of turtles and tortoises here.
Can I pick up my turtle or tortoise from you instead of having it shipped? We do not allow pick ups for several reasons. As mentioned above, this is a private facility where we also raise our kids but in addition to that, it is ILLEGAL for us to conduct any transaction of any kind involving turtles and tortoises within the state's lines. By law, we must accept payment from an out of state resident and then ship the animal(s) to an out of state address. There is no way around this and we are watched closely. Luckily, shipping is safe, secure and with live arrival guaranteed. For more info on the regulations in New Jersey, visit the "NJ TURTLE LAWS" page.
Does Garden State Tortoise take in unwanted turtles and tortoises? Yes, we do accept unwanted turtles and tortoises and we actually aid in most of the rescues within our state concerning this. However, there are stipulations in place and certain species such as red eared sliders and sulcata tortoises are not currently being taken in here until further notice. You can visit the UNWANTED TURTLES & TORTOISES page to learn more.
How long has Garden State Tortoise been around? Garden State Tortoise was officially started in the summer of 2011 but founder Chris Leone has been active in the community since the 1990s. He has worked with turtles since the age of 5.
Does Garden State Tortoise do any conservation work? We are the proud founders and operators behind the Terrapin Conservation Initiative, a program to save the famous northern diamondback terrapins of south Jersey. Chris and Casey also happen to be members of the non profit conservation organization theTurtleRoom.org. Dedicated to the education, conservation and survival of chelonians, theTurtleRoom maintains several in-situ projects such as wood turtle surveys in Pennsylvania, Home's hinge back tortoise work in Africa, the Terrapin Conservation Initiative and more. In addition, Chris is a member of New Jersey Fish and Wildlife's Venomous Snake Response Team and he and his wife Casey also aid the Marine Mammal Stranding Center with south Jersey sea turtle rescues.
Is Garden State Tortoise involved with other organizations? We generally support any legitimate organization dedicated to saving turtles and wildlife but we do work closely with the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) in maintaining endangered species on breeding loan for assurance purposes.
Is Garden State Tortoise where the famous tortoise twins were born? Yes! In 2015, we discovered twin western Hermann's tortoises attempting to hatch from an egg and they were attached to the same yolk sac. After separating the twins with dental floss and filming the entire process, the video on YouTube went viral generating millions of views. News coverage poured in and that was the first time GST really hit hard with the world. Watch the video here or simply google "Separating Tortoise Twins".
Does Garden State Tortoise give educational talks? Yes. Both Chris and Casey take pride in educating the public about the importance of wildlife, especially New Jersey's native reptiles and give various talks or presentations throughout the year. Chris has traveled the USA giving presentations on several turtle and tortoise species and has presented at the Box Turtle Conservation Workshop, the Minnesota Herpetological Society, the Mid Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, the Turtle & Tortoise Preservation Group conference and the Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles, to name a few. Keep an eye on GST's social media accounts for announcements about upcoming talks.
What is Hermanni Haven? Hermanni Haven is basically a subsidiary of GST. Since the young age of 9, Chris has been deeply involved in the preservation of the endangered western Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni) and created HH as a separate informational portal to allow for a better understanding of this underrated and often ignored Mediterranean tortoise. GST houses the largest collection of western Hermann's tortoises outside of Europe and is globally credited for maintaining historically known, locality specific groups. Chris has even performed his own genetic study on the tortoises and aids parties worldwide in the proper identification and care of them. If you love Hermann's tortoises and other species of Mediterranean tortoise, join him in his obsession by visiting HermnniHaven.com today.