CHICAGO (CBS) — The Shedd Aquarium recently released 24 state-endangered Blanding’s turtles onto a protected site in the DuPage County Forest Preserve system.

The endangered Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) were released earlier this month after being tagged with the swipe of a sharpie.

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Workers from the Shedd Aquarium’s animal care team had to trek through mud and water to take the turtles to their new home.

The Shedd also welcomed 29 new hatchlings.

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The Shedd animal care team rears Blanding’s turtles behind the scenes. The turtles are a critical part of the local ecosystem, and their health is an environmental indicator. But they are also reliant on a head-start program since they are state-endangered.

Visitors cannot see Blanding’s turtles at the Shedd – they are not on display. But visitors can connect with local wildlife – including other turtle species – at the At Home on the Great Lakes Exhibit.

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To support the Blanding’s turtle conservation effort, you can join the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s adopt-a-turtle program, or help out with the Shedd’s action days to restore local habitats.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff