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Special Events

Turtle Derby

The 2010 Turtle Derby takes place May 14! 

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, where they are subsequently returned, they "race" to the cheering of neighborhood children, Hopkins faculty, staff, residents, patients and their families, egged on by Johns Hopkins Medical School students in jockey silks. Proceeds benefit Child Life and the Perkins Day Care Center. Anyone can name a turtle and enter it in one of the afternoon's multiple races for a small fee  in the week leading up to the derby and purchase derby accessories, including shirts and pins, while they're at it. The race takes place in fair weather on the grassy knoll of the coutyard behind the Preclinical Teaching Building on the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore.  The 2009 derby.      The 2008 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.

The derby is organized and hosted by first year medical students and radiology students, with help from Child Life and the Office of Student Activities.

Turtle Trivia:

Q: What type of turtles are these?

A: They vary. Some years they are red-eared sliders.

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!)

 


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