Turtles Stolen From Pilcher Park Nature Center

Turtles Stolen From Pilcher Park Nature Center

A burglar stole more than half the beloved turtles from the Pilcher Park Nature Center.

“They broke in through the animal kitchen,” nature center manager Katie Zaban said, telling how the crook smashed a window and absconded with seven of Pilcher Park’s 13 turtles about 5:15 p.m. on June 15.

The nature center had only been closed for about half an hour when the prowler struck, Zaban said.

The thief made off with four red-eared sliders, a painted turtle, an eastern box turtle and an ornate box turtle.

Six of the turtles were taken from an open pond exhibit and one was stolen off of a counter in the animal kitchen, an area where food is prepared and supplies are stored. That turtle was sick and had been separated from the others to keep them from catching its ailment, Zaban said.

The nature center receives many of its turtles from pet owners who no longer want them. They are relatively inexpensive and can be found at most pet stores, but one, the ornate box turtle, is listed as an endangered species in Illinois, Zaban said.

“You actually have to have a permit from the state” to possess it, she said.

Animals had never before been stolen during a break-in at the nature center, Zaban said, but she recalled hearing about an even more shocking crime from more than a generation past.

“About 30 years ago, I think they’re used to be foxes and bobcats in the back,” she said. “I think they killed them.”