About the Turtle & Tortoise Preservation Group

The TTPG was founded by Russ Gurley in 1996 to help spread the horrible news: The world’s turtles are disappearing. Across the planet there are a variety of pressures facing the world’s turtles including habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, collection for food and folk remedies, collection for the pet trade, and many more. Each year, turtle and tortoise keepers are having more and more successes with keeping their chelonians healthy and in creative enclosures and they are producing healthy captive-hatched specimens that are living stress-free and parasite-free in homes all over the world. These pets are ambassadors for their cousins, living in nature.

The TTPG is happy to be involved with the dissemination of information about the world's turtles and tortoises and their proper care through talks at herpetological societies, Turtle Night at the National Reptile Breeders Expo, the TTPG Conference on Captive Care and Breeding of Turtles and Tortoises in Phoenix, Arizona each year in November, and through books, articles, care sheets, and this website.

Russ proudly hosted Turtle Night at the National Reptile Breeders Expo in Florida for twelve years before TTPG created the TTPG Conference in Phoenix. We hope you will join us for this year’s conference where attendees hear a wide range of chelonian topics devoted to captive care, nutrition, medical care, captive breeding, incubation, raising healthy offspring, and much more.

Enjoy our website and I hope you will choose to become a member to share in our work!

Board Members

  • Russ Gurley, Founder & Director
  • Drew Rheinhardt, Director
  • James Badman, Director
  • Paul Vander Schouw
  • Michael Thathuvaswamy


  • Kurt Edwards
  • Debbie McMorris

Russ Gurley

Russ Gurley was a founding member of the American Federation of Herpetoculturists in the 1980s and served as a creative force behind The Vivarium magazine for several years. He has produced many books and articles relating to the captive care of reptiles, including geckos, snakes, and more recently aquatic turtles and tortoises. These articles have appeared in magazines and journals such as HERP NATION, Reptilia, MANOURIA, The Batagur, and on various websites.

Russ’s first turtle-related book, The African Spurred Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata, in Captivity, was published in 2002. He has authored a number of other popular books including A Color Guide to Tarantulas of the World I, A Color Guide to Tarantulas of the World II, Tarantulas and Scorpions in Captivity, Keeping and Breeding Freshwater Turtles, Baby Turtles, SULCATAS: Spurred Tortoises in Captivity, and he currently has a number of other books in progress.

Russ formed the Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group in 1996 to promote the captive breeding of rare turtles and tortoises and to spread the most recent information relating to the keeping and breeding of captive reptiles through articles, books, conferences and workshops, and through the TTPG website. Russ and the TTPG members host the TTPG Conference on Captive Care and Breeding of Turtles and Tortoises each year in Arizona.

Russ has a BFA from Oklahoma State University in illustration/painting and is involved in the art scene in his free time and he is the owner of FORGOTTEN TRIBES SKULLS (www.tribalskulls.com). Russ was the first in the United States to breed Pyxis planicauda, Batrachemys raniceps, and Bothropthalmus lineatus. He maintains a collection of turtles and tortoises and is involved in a variety of unusual lizard and tarantula projects.

James Badman

James Badman has worked at Arizona State University for 18 years. He is the Associate Director for the Department of Animal Care and Technologies. He owns Wildside Pets, LLC, an exotic pet store in Mesa, Arizona. He and Drew Rheinhardt host the Phoenix Reptile Expo, LLC. James is married and has two beautiful daughters. Like most, he has kept tortoises since he was a kid.

James maintains a wide variety of tortoises with an emphasis on species that do well outside in the dry climate of Arizona. These include sulcata, leopard, pancake, radiated and Mediterranean tortoises. James also maintains and breeds several specialized species such as Pyxis, Kinixys spekii, Egyptian and Chaco tortoises.

Drew Rheinhardt

Drew Rheinhardt is a construction superintendent and has worked with many species of reptiles since his early childhood. Like his mentor, Bert Langerwerf, Drew has devoted most of his time keeping species that will thrive in outdoor enclosures in his native Arizona. His enclosures are producing some of the most amazing species from Africa and Europe including Leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis), Spurred tortoises (Centrochelys sulcata), and a variety of Testudo species including Testudo hermanni, Testudo floweri and Testudo marginata. Drew also keeps and breeds a handful of aquatic species and has recently produced a number of Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis), a species that is now extinct in nature.

Drew has also been successful with a wide range of lizard species including terrestrial geckos, chuckwallas, and other desert species, and he is one of the most successful keepers of Uromastyx lizards in the country. Drew’s insight into desert-dwelling species that thrive in his Arizona climate has provided a wealth of information for keepers around the country.

Wayne Hill

TTPG board member Wayne Hill is most notable for bringing our hobby the National Reptile Breeders Expo in Florida. After a long history with reptiles which includes breeding albino cobras, keeping and breeding Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, and keeping and breeding Madagascan Hog-nosed snakes (he was the first to breed all three species), he settled into a fascination with turtles and tortoises. He has a large and diverse collection at his breeding facility in Florida that includes an excellent soft-shelled turtle collection, multiple Podocnemis species, Erymnochelys madagascariensis, snake-necked turtles, and a large variety of exotic species including a beautiful herd of adult Galapagos tortoises. Wayne has produced Spotted pond turtles (Geoclemys hamiltoni) for many years and his work with this species has single-handedly added over 500 specimens to the world’s population of this rare and attractive endangered species. His population in Florida could potentially be the replacement group for this species in nature if pollution, man’s interference, or a natural disaster ever devastated the wild population of this aquatic turtle species.

Wayne is the gracious host of TURTLE NIGHT at the National Reptile Breeders Expo and his support of conservation projects around the world is unmatched in the hobby of herpetoculture. To date, his auctions at the National Reptile Breeders Expo have raised more than $100,000 for projects around the planet that are devoted to captive breeding of reptiles and amphibians.

Kurt Edwards

Kurt Edwards has a diverse collection of both aquatic species and tortoises. He was best known early in the hobby for producing Spotted turtles. In more recent years, he has developed a fondness for South American species and became the first breeder in the United States to successfully hatch and raise a Spiny-necked turtle (Acanthochelys spixii). In addition to aquatic species, Kurt is also interested in the Kinixys genus, and has hatched over 70 Home's Hingeback tortoises (Kinixys homeana) to date.

Kurt has written various articles for publications such as Schildkroten im Fokus and The Batagur.

Kurt spoke at the National Reptile Breeders Expo in 2005, NARBC Arlington in 2007, East Texas Herp Society in 2009, Phoenix Reptile Expo in 2009, and various other herp societies.

Jerry Fife

Jerry Fife is a former CPA who managed golf courses, sports complexes, and spring training baseball stadiums in Phoenix, Arizona. He has bred a large number of species in his outdoor enclosures, including Star tortoises, Egyptian tortoises, Leopard tortoises, Spurred tortoises, Spider tortoises, Flat-tailed tortoises, and a variety of Mediterranean tortoises.

Jerry has an interest in lizards as well and has kept and bred iguanas and chuckwallas for over a decade. He currently works with Rhinoceros iguanas, various Spiny-tailed (Ctenosaura) species, Angel Island chuckwallas, and other lizard species. He has traveled to the Caribbean, Mexico, Galapagos Islands, South Africa and Central America to see many of these species in the wild. Jerry is the author of many books and articles and speaks at herp societies, turtle and tortoise conferences, and reptile events throughout the year.

Books by Jerry Fife:

Leopard Tortoises: The Natural History, Captive Care and Breeding of Stigmochelys pardalis (with Richard Fife)

Star Tortoise: The Natural History, Captive Care, and Breeding of Geochelone elegans and Geochelone platynota

Mediterranean Tortoises: The Natural History, Captive Care and Breeding of Greek, Hermann's, Marginated, Russian, & Egyptian Tortoises

IGUANAS: A Pictorial Guide to the Iguanas of the World

Richard Fife

Richard Fife, is the owner and operator of Riparian Farms, a turtle and tortoise breeding facility located in South East Arizona. He developed the "Ivory Tortoise", which is a dark eyed form of albinic African Spurred Tortoise. He also works with other species of turtles and tortoises including several "at risk" Asian species including species of Cuora. Richard was employed by the Gladys Porter Zoo, as Assistant Curator of Reptiles and left the zoo in 1978. Over the years he has improved many turtle and tortoise husbandry techniques and has written many popular articles about turtles and tortoises. He was a founding member of the "National Turtle and Tortoise Association" and past president of the Arizona Herpetological Association. He has spoken to groups on the subject of turtles and tortoises throughout the USA, Vienna Austria, Johannesburg South African, and the Galapagos Islands. Richard has traveled on numerous "Wildlife Expeditions" with his brother Jerry. He is currently employed by the City of Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Ken Foose

Ken Foose has been keeping reptiles since the age of nine years old. Today he is the President of the International Herpetological Symposium, a columnist for Reptiles magazine, and the owner of Exotic Pets Las Vegas, one of the premier reptile pet stores in the United States.

Debbie McMorris

I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't have turtles and tortoises. My love for them has been one of the constants in my life. As a child I depended on my parents to educate me on the care of my pets. When the experts told me to feed freeze dried ants, flies, and raw hamburger. The mortality rate in some species was high. As I got older and my love of chelonians continued I hunted for information on their care and how to improve their lives. After our sons were born, we got them two nickel size Red-eared sliders thinking it would teach them the cycle of life, hygiene, and caring for a pet. What happened was the start of not only educating ourselves but also many other children and adults. I was President of the National Turtle and Tortoise Society for fifteen years. The society's main focus was the education, conservation, and captive propagation of chelonians. I thought I could back away for a turtle and turtle organization. I found that I was still educating people without a place to send them. That is where I am glad to have the TTPG. I am happy to be a part of an organization that cares about our world's chelonians. I have been blessed to keep many species of turtles and tortoises. One of my greatest accomplishments is the captive breeding and hatching of Chelonoidis chilensis, also known as the Chaco Tortoise. Twenty-four years later, the life cycle of our sons' Red-eared sliders is still continuing!

Dennis Uhrig

Dennis Uhrig grew up in New Jersey but has been a resident of Florida for the past 38 years. Turtles have been a part of Dennis’s life for over fifty years and Dennis hatched his first turtle eggs at the age of eleven. Dennis maintains a large collection of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles and hatches out nearly one hundred different species of turtles every year.