Turtle Derby 2012

Event Date: Friday, May 18, 2012
Event Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Preclinical Teaching Bldg. courtyard, Johns Hopkins, east Baltimore campus.

Now in its 81st year, the derby, hosted by Johns Hopkins first-year medical students and Radiology students, is free and open to the public. Proceeds benefit the Department of Child Life and the Perkins Day Care Center, a Hopkins Children's affiliate.  

 Name a turtle and enter it to win a cash prize! Entry forms, derby T-shirts, buttons and hats go on sale this spring and will be available for purchase in Johns Hopkins Hospital. CHECK BACK FOR DETAILS 

What is the Johns Hopkins Turtle Derby?  

Every spring since 1931 (and now every May), turtles have ambled out from a starting gate and crawled to victory in the Annual Johns Hopkins Turtle Derby. Imports from U.S. turtle farms, to which they are subsequently returned, turtles "race" to the cheering of neighborhood children, Hopkins faculty, staff, patients and their families. The little creatures, and the audience, are egged on by Johns Hopkins Medical School students in jockey silks.

Look for the derby in fair weather on the grassy knoll of the courtyard behind the Preclinical Teaching Building on the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore. 

Johns Hopkins Gets Its Turtle On!   2011 Derby 

Turtle Derby 2008 Detail Photo 

A traditional prelude to the Preakness in Baltimore, the turtle derby's origins are traced back to Benjamin Frisby, a hospital caretaker and doorman who kept a small turtle pen outside the original hospital administration building. Soon, a racetrack was built and wagers were made, all in the name of building community among the medical residents.

 Turtle Trivia:

Q: What type of turtles are these?

A: They vary. Some years they are red-eared sliders. In recent years, they've arrived for the races from a North Carolina turtle farm. After the derby, the turtles go home again.

Q: Why do turtles move so slowly?

A: Physically, turtles are slow because they have a very slow metabolism, which means their bodies process energy little by little. But animals with slow metabolisms often live longer  – some turtles live for more than one hundred years!

Q: What is the biggest turtle?

A: The Marine Leatherback Turtle is the largest reptile. (A sea turtle weighing up to 500 pounds!)

Questions? Contact Child Life, 410-955-6277.

Event Category:
  • General