Public Events on Saturday, April 8

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) encourages all Alabamians to celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day on April 10. This year several public events are planned across the state on Saturday, April 8 since April 10 falls on a Monday.

Gopher Tortoise Day was started by the Gopher Tortoise Council, a group formed in 1978 by southeastern biologists and other citizens concerned with the decline of the species. Gopher Tortoise Day was first celebrated statewide in Florida in 2016.

2017 Gopher Tortoise Day Events in Alabama

  • April 8: Birmingham Zoo The Birmingham Zoo has partnered with ADCNR for a fun, educational day featuring several gopher tortoise related activities. Guests can experience live animal demonstrations and encounters, ornament painting, coloring pages for kids and more. The event is free for members and included in general admission. Time: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • April 8: Landmark Park, Dothan Guests can meet the park’s resident gopher tortoise, participate in crafts and activities and learn ways to help conserve the gopher tortoise and its habitat. The event is free with paid gate admission. Time: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • April 8: Lanark, Millbrook Gopher Tortoise Day activities will feature live animals and gopher tortoise related crafts and activities for children and adults. The celebration coincides with Lanark’s Flora and Fauna Arts Festival (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). General admission applies, $5 per person or $20 maximum per family. Time: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

ADCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) is encouraging individuals and organizations to assist in the conservation of this important species by adopting a Gopher Tortoise Day in their communities to increase awareness and appreciation for these long-lived, gentle reptiles.

Several resources are available to help adopt a Gopher Tortoise Day in your community, including a resolution template, sample press release and sample social media posts. Information about hosting a Gopher Tortoise Day event can be downloaded from www.outdooralabama.com/gopher-tortoise-day-resources.

In Alabama, gopher tortoises are state and federally protected and found in 23 counties in the lower third of the state. They are frequently encountered in neighborhoods, along roadways and on many of the state’s private and public lands.

Gopher tortoises are a keystone species because they dig huge underground burrows that provide refuge for over 360 other wildlife species. Among the species that benefit from sharing its burrows are the gopher frog, Eastern indigo snake and hundreds of invertebrates like beetles and crickets. Without gopher tortoise burrows, many of these species might not survive.

For more information about Gopher Tortoise Day, visit www.outdooralabama.com/gopher-tortoise-day, or contact WFF Tortoise Conservation Coordinator Ericha Nix at Ericha.Shelton-Nix@dcnr.alabama.gov or 334-242-3469.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

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Photo by Ashley Smith