Meet Jeremiah: The Friendly Turtle Who Lives at SJSU

Written by Sarah Souksamphanh

Jeremiah the Turtle

Since 1976, SJSU has been home to an eighty year-old California Desert Tortoise, Jeremiah (15 pounds). Jeremiah is a turtle that is personable. Jeremiah is cared for by SJSU’s animal care staff and the director of the Science Education Resource Center (SERC program). He not only thinks that he is human, but he also responds to the voices of his caretakers. Furthermore, the purpose of caring for Jeremiah in the SERC program is for studying and education. He is part of the university's Science Education Program, which includes the Science Teacher Credential Program. As a result, SJSU’s students, teachers, and SJSU teacher alumni are able to bring Jeremiah with special training to their classroom.

In his lifetime at SJSU, Jeremiah has served as a science study ambassador to elementary schools in the south bay, modeled for the art department, and been studied by the biology department for habitat and behavior. Additionally, some of the most meaningful work that Jeremiah has done includes visiting elementary schools to teach students about turtles, respecting wildlife, and the importance of protecting the environment. Diane Davis, the director of the SERC program highlights that Jeremiah is a valuable individual to the SERC program and the community because he teaches the value of the habitat preservation and he inspires people to take notice of the ecosystem around them.

Jeremiah the Turtle

Through visiting schools, one of the many meaningful stories of Jeremiah took place in a classroom for autistic students. Davis recalls that one of the teachers reported that after Jeremiah visited the classroom, the students were eager and inspired to write in their journals about meeting Jeremiah.

Jeremiah is a part of the SERC program that is regulated and supported by the SJSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Each local IACUC reviews research protocols and conducts evaluations of the institution's animal care. The evaluations include inspections of all animal use facilities every six months. SERC is a unique educational resource center that houses over 5000 science resources in the thematic areas of Earth Science, Physical Science, and Life Science. With Jeremiah, there are also other turtles, reptiles, and other specimens that are cared by the SERC program.