Gea Chelonia Foundation: Tortoise Conservation in Bulgaria: width=



Tortoise Conservation in Bulgaria





Gea Chelonia Foundation: Tortoise Conservation in Bulgaria


Dear tortoise friends,

On the Tortoise Centre's page you'll find answers to the most commonly asked questions about visiting us.


Dear friends,

Given the current state of the COVID-19 global outbreak and in light of the emmergency state in the country announced by the Bulgaran Government on 13 th of March, The Tortoise Centre has made the decision to close for visitors. This excludes delivering of ill, wounded or disstressed tortoises. The health and well-being of our animals, staff and visitors are of critical importance to us. We look forward to reopen when we can safely proceed with our normal operations. Please take good care of yourselves and your health. We appreciate your support and understanding.


Gea Chelonia Foundation is looking for financial support to create educational facility for children

Bank details:

Gea Chelonia Foundation
Bank name: Raiffeisen Bank
Bank account BGN: BG45RZBB91551086349113

Herpetological trips along the Black sea coast

If you are a reptile and ampibian lover, you are wellcome to our herpetotrips along the Black sea coast. You can join us from May to October in this amazing adventure. Thanks to our friend Gunda Meyer de Rojas, our german speaking guests can already get to know about our trips on her website: .

Photogalleries of some previous trips can be seen here and here.

6.2. 2020 ă. Translators needed

We have a great deal of translation in German and Russian lined up. If you or your organization could help voluntary, please contact us .

30.5. 2014 ă. "Tortoise week "

A Tortoise week were carried out in Tortoise centre from 23rd to 30th of May with partners from the tortoise organization Schildkroten-Interessengemeinschaft Schweiz. Read more

23.11. 2013 Bulgarian - Swiss partnership for partnership for development of the Gea Chelonia Foundation Tortoise centre

The Swiss organization Schildkroteninteressengemeinschaft Schweiz (SIGS) will be a GCF's partner in its new project Bulgarian-Swiss partnership for development of the Gea Chelonia Foundation Tortoise centre. The project will be supported by a grant from Switzerland through the Partnership and Expert Fund. Both partners will cooperate for effectiveness of the Tortoise centre as a rescue, tourist and scientific centre. Read more

28.2.2012 Tourism and solar energy in the Tortoise centre with financial contribution of the Global Environmental Facility

In 2012 The Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility will co finance the project “Sustainable practices contributing to tortoise protection in Eastern Balkan Mountain, Tortoise Center, Banya village”. It is addressed both directions - development and promotion of a tourist product friendly to preservation of global significant species and alternative energy use for reducing the air polution. Read more

22.10.2010 Visitor Centre Opening

On 10th September 2010 Gea Chelonia Foundation opened its Visitor Centre, established with the financial support of The Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility, project “Conservation of land tortoises and their habitats in the Eastern Eminska Mountains, through direct conservation measures, sustainable ecotourism development and popularization of the activities”.

James Buskirk: "Many of Bulgaria's leading field zoologists attended the inauguration along with members of the news media, regional government representatives and those of donor organizations, besides private donors and various guests."... read more

Hans Juergen Bidmon: "On the tenth of September 2010 the inauguration of the Bulgarian Centre for Tortoise Research and Conservation took place with the participation of the news media, representatives of various donor organisations, and various private donors and guests. My personal impression was..." read more

Photo Gallery

19.10.2009. NGO Fund through EEA Financial Mechanism to support GCF's project

On 01.11.2009 the Gea Chelonia Foundation launched the project "Eminska Mountain - a model for sustainable development and nature protection in the Central Black Sea coastal region" with the financial support of the NGO Fund through the EEA Financial Mechanism. The project covers Priority Area 1: Protecting the environment and stimulating sustainable development. Read more

30.09.2009 г. 24 hatchlings in the tortoise Centre

24 hatchlings - 15 Spur-thighed and 9 Spur-tailed tortoises hatched in the Centre in Banya village this autumn. Annually 20 - 30 newborns hatch in the Centre, depending on the number of males, females and the number of fertilized eggs. The centre has recorded a record hatchling rate in the autumn of 2008 because of the great number of adult tortoises housed during the rescue actions along the Black Sea coast during the summer.

11.09.2009 Jumbo-sized tortoises

Two "extra large" female Spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) were welcomed to the Centre. Their straight carapace lengths are 25 and 27 cm. respectively, and the larger one weighed 4kg. upon arrival.  Both specimens had traveled over 200 km from the Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Centre in Stara Zagora. Previously they have been in captivity for more than 36 years. Their precise age cannot be determined, but they were reported to have been fully grown when taken from the wild in 1973.

24.07.2009. Gea Chelonia Foundation starts a new six-month project

GCF will start the project "Capacity building for biodiversity protection in Eminska Mountain" under "A place to live 2009" Program of the EkoObshtnost Foundation. The overall goal of the project is to halt biodiversity loss in Eminska Mountain through building up local capacity for its protection and management. Many activities are planned for assisting the local people to realize the economic benefits of a healthy biodiversity status: making favorable conditions for development of Eminska Mountain as an ecotourist destination, and broad promotion on the Internet. More direct measures include promotion by local tourist agencies; nature protection training of local young people to encourage a positive attitude and awareness of nature conservation; establishing multilateral partnerships among local societies, businesses, NGOs, environment-managing institutions, local and regional media, and private citizens. Read more

20.07.2009 A Visitor Centre initiated

GCF started building a Visitor Centre within the Tortoise Centre in Banya village, Nesebar Municipality. The initiative is financed by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility. Read more

12.06.2009 Poachers caught with 153 tortoises

On 3 June 2009 Roma poachers were caught in a joint action of the Regional Police Department (Rakovski) and the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters (Plovdiv) while trying to sell 153 tortoises of both species – Spur-thighed and Spur-tailed (Testudo graeca ibera and Testudo hermanni boettgeri) in the town of Rakovski, Plovdiv District. Under Bulgarian legislation the tortoises are included in Annex III of the Biological Diversity Act, and any collection, possession, sacrifice, or molestation thereof is subject to the Penal Code of the Republic of Bulgaria.
All 153 tortoises were first housed at the Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Centre  in the town of Stara Zagora to evaluate general health status and provide veterinary treatment if necessary. Experts from Gea Chelonia Foundation and Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Center measured, weighed and marked all the specimens and prepared them for release back to the wild. The tortoises were released in a strictly monitored reserve near the town of Kardjali in southern Bulgaria near which they had been collected.

29.05.2009 Radio-tracking

During the active season of 2008 the GCF team carried out a series of tortoise rescue actions along the Black Sea Coast. The animals were relocated in newly set aside habitats in protected areas where they are subjects of ongoing periodic monitoring. In May 2009 the Foundation purchased radio tracking equipment, financed by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). Radio telemetry will help define the adaptation success of the relocated tortoises. Read more


Tortoise from the centre

Tortoise from the center
Tortose hatchling
Egg laying tortoise
Spur-thighed tortoises
Newly relocated female tortoise
Tortoise from the centre
Juvenile tortoise
Feeding tortoise
Spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca)
Baby tortoise
Egg laying tortoise

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