CHICAGO (CBS) — About two dozen endangered Blanding’s turtles were released into the wild after being cared for at the Shedd Aquarium.

The baby hatchlings were raised at the aquarium where they got vet care and reached the “appropriate size and weight to be reintroduced into their habitat,” according to a news release. The reptiles were released into what’s being called a “protected site” at a suburban forest preserve.

(Credit: Shedd Aquarium)

Shedd Aquarium has worked in partnership with the Forest Preserve District Of DuPage County since 1996. In preparing the 23 turtles for returning to the wild, an ecologist with the Forest Preserve District microchipped them after taking their weights and measurements.

(Credit: Shedd Aquarium)

The turtles are known for their distinctive yellow throat and chin, which can show a permanent ‘smile.’ They are endangered in Illinois after suffering a drastic population decline over the years. Some of the causes include predation, loss of habitat by humans and roadside deaths.

(Credit: Shedd Aquarium)

Over the next week, the Shedd’s animal care team will begin a year-long process by helping two dozen more hatchlings. The goal is the same: to make sure the turtles are big and healthy enough to return to their natural surroundings.

(Credit: Shedd Aquarium)