Never fear, UT turtles will stay here

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Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Students were sent into a frenzy Tuesday as horror-film-esque rumors circulated — the turtle pond and the BOT greenhouse might be demolished. However, the turtle pond and greenhouse are not going anywhere, according to University officials.

The rumors started last night on the “UT LONGmemes for HORNSy Teens” Facebook page. In two separate posts, members of the page said the pond and the greenhouse would be torn down and replaced with “god-knows-what.”

The only construction planned for the area involves a sagging sewer line that needs to be taken out of service, UT spokesman J.B. Bird said.

“The University has been carefully planning renovations to a sewer line near the pond, specifically so as not to disturb the turtles,” Bird said in an email. “To take it out of service, once funding is available, the line will be rerouted to avoid any impact on the pond.”

Bird said the University utilities staff said its goal is to have “zero disruption to the pond” during renovations.

The BOT greenhouse, which was closed last fall due to safety issues from fallen glass panels, is being assessed for safety, according to Christine Sinatra, CNS
director of communications.

“The turtle pond is a valued space, and we appreciate it,” Sinatra said. “It is used not just for students to study and enjoy but also a place that’s a habitat that our biology students get to observe.”

The College of Natural Sciences also tweeted Wednesday morning in response to the rumors and said the turtle pond is a “much-loved” space, and there are no plans to change it. The pond is home to almost 80 turtles, most of which are red-eared sliders and Texas river cooters along with a few otherspecies, Sinatra said.

Juan Maestre, a research associate for UT’s Center for Water and the Environment, said the turtle pond is not only an icon of the UT campus, but it is also a learning resource. Students will survey the water quality of the turtle pond on Friday as part of the research project UT Biome, Maestre said.

“It’s a teaching opportunity because it is a unique environment on campus,” Maestre said. “It would be very sad to lose. I was relieved (to hear it will not
be closed).”

Plant biology junior Margot Deatherage posted on the “UT LONGmemes for HORNSy Teens” Facebook page about the rumors but later corrected herself after learning they were false.

“I’m glad that I was wrong about it if it meant the turtles can stay safe,” Deatherage said in the updated Facebook post.

Deatherage said the outpour of student responses still helped emphasize the importance of the turtle pond to the UT community.

“I’m just glad (because of) how many people showed their love for the turtle pond,” Deatherage told The Daily Texan.

Bird said this situation represents how quickly unfounded rumors can take hold on social media.

“These rumors prove that a lie can spread halfway around the world before a turtle can walk around the pond,” Bird said.