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For tortoise, terrapin and turtle care and conservation

Caring for Tortoises and Turtles in Hawaii

Georgia Tien

On a recent visit to Hawaii I had the pleasure of meeting Georgia Tien, a retired scientist who now spends time rescuing turtles.

I was invited to Georgia’s house where I was introduced to Buttercup; a very large white cockerel that Georgia had revived after it had been left for dead.

I was keen to see the turtles and first met a brightly coloured Eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina Carolina) peeping out from a small rock cave amongst the flowers and bushes in the enclosure. This was quickly followed by a large Redfoot, not too elderly to venture forth and see who was walking round the grounds. We moved on to see several Florida Box turtles (Terrapene carolina bauri), Ornate Box turtles (Terrapene ornata ornata), Three Toed Box turtles ((Terrapene carolina triunguis), Spotted Box turtle (Terrapene nelsoni) and many more. Every species had its own enclosure which was spacious, planted with shrubs or small trees and had a small pond fitted with drainage and refill pipes that were beautifully concealed. Her garden is delightful, bordering the river and is very attractive despite housing numerous species of turtle!

I heard how Georgia had first begun to rehome turtles that were unwanted pets or simply found wandering. She visits the local pet sellers and, if she sees a box turtle it usually returns home with her. Georgia tries to find homes for unwanted turtles and is doing a great job in Kaiula educating people about how to look after the turtles they have rehomed.

The climate in Hawaii is perfect for the turtles; no need for lights and heating and the neighbours help to supply snails etc.

Georgia has a passion for horses; she told me of walking her horse every day and was thrilled that her19 year old had learnt new dressage moves. Not that unusual except that this horse has been blind for the last 5 years and relies totally on commands and sound signals, a real insight into the care this lady takes of her animals.

Georgia has gleaned most of her knowledge about her turtles from the Internet and has researched every animal to identify it and ensure it gets the correct diet and care.

The turtles have certainly landed in an excellent environment and it was a joy to see them all.