Mediterranean Tortoises book

The conservation and husbandry of any species requires the knowledge of that species requirements in the wild. Wolfgang Wegehaupt has spent decades researching European tortoises in the field and has published a number of excellent books in German. TSA Europe provided financial support to translate 37 chapters of information on the ecology of European Testudo species into English to allow this information to reach a much wider audience.
This book will be available soon on our website.

Conference 2019

Thanks to all the speakers and everyone who attended our conference this weekend. We had a number of fantastic, interesting talks and the conference would not have been possible without the support of everyone who came.

In Memoriam of TSA Europe Chair Henk Zwartepoorte

In Memoriam of TSA Europe Chair Henk Zwartepoorte

by Ron de Bruin on December 07, 2016

On October 28, Henk Zwartepoorte died unexpectedly while on holiday in Australia. He was 67 years old. Henk was a passionate leader in the turtle conservation community. Because of his friendly and approachable nature Henk had an extensive network of people involved in turtle care, biology, and conservation around the world. Henk started his career as an animal caretaker in the Rotterdam Zoo, where he later became curator of the reptile and amphibian collection. Under his guidance, the Rotterdam Zoo became a leader in reptile and amphibian breeding and conservation.

Henk has been involved with the TSA since its foundation in 2001 in Fort Worth, TX and he was chairman of TSA Europe.

In 1994 Henk initiated the Dutch Studbook Foundation, aimed at conserving threatened chelonians and other taxa. His efforts to promote breeding programs resulted in the adoption of studbooks by several European countries, which lead to the creation of the European Studbook Foundation, of which Henk was the president from 2003 until 2016. He strengthened the link between the European Association of Zoos, Aquaria, and the European Studbook Foundation. This contributed to bridging the gap between zoos and private keepers, both of whom could participate in the studbooks.

Henk was a tireless promoter of conservation philosophy. He was involved in many conservation projects around the world and played a pivotal role in distributing chelonians that were seized by authorities around the globe.

After his retirement from the zoo two years ago, Henk started with the realization of his dream, the ReHerp Foundation (, an organization that cares for and breeds highly endangered reptiles and amphibians with the aim to eventually reintroduce them to their original habitat in cooperation with the local population. Unfortunately, he will never witness the completion of the ReHerp facilities in the beginning of 2017.

Henk was not just an icon in his field of expertise, he was a good person with high moral standards and above all, a nice guy.

We will miss him incredibly in all his various capacities. On behalf of the TSA Europe I want to wish his wife Mary strength to bear this great loss.

We will all miss Henk.

Ron de Bruin


Photo credit: Rob Doolaard, Rotterdam Zoo

Hans Dieter Philippen obituary

Hans Dieter Philippen obituary.


The shock was great. May  9 this year very unexpected at the age of 58 our Turtle Survival Alliance Europe vice chair Hans Dieter Philippen passed away. Very peacefully in his sleep. May 13 he was cremated and May 21 his ashes were buried at the Bergerbos cemetery in the Netherlands.

Hans Dieter always lived close to the Dutch boarder and by a lot of Dutch turtle keepers he was sometimes called “an almost Dutchman”.

The TSA Europe not only loses one of her vice chairs but also a very dedicated turtle conservationist.

October 20, 1984 I met him for the first time at a meeting of the Dutch Turtle and Tortoise Society at the Rotterdam Zoo. That day a 32 years long personal friendship began. During the 80ties he guided us to a increasing number of German, Austrian and Swiss turtle keepers and breeders. We visited zoos together and he was a very welcome guest at the Rotterdam. He was advisor for the European Association for Zoos and Aquariums, advisor for the European Studbook Foundation and since 2002 TSA Europe vice chair.

Hans Dieter had the ability to bind people. He did that in a charmy, friendly and co operative way.

His knowledge on fauna and flora was tremendous; he was a living encyclopaedia. Besides that he built up a large library of books, magazines and other references. You never got a “no” for an answer when you asked him something.

On his memory card was written:

There are people in the world,

Having the gift,

To find friends everywhere; and

The best thing a person can leave behind,

is a smile on the face

of those who remember him.

The reptile and amphibian keepers community lost an icon.

Although he is no longer with us he will never be forgotten. His name will endlessly be connected to what we all share the love for animals.

And when we remember him we will indeed do with a smile.

Our condolences go to his wife Elke Grünwald and his family. We wish them strength.


On behalf of the TSA Europe board

Henk Zwartepoorte, TSA Europe chair.