In September 1991, in response to the dwindling numbers and near extinction of many turtle species, the Mexican government banned the trade of sea turtles and created the National Mexican Turtle Center, or Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga.
The 10-acre center, located in the town of Mazunte near Zipolite, is home to various varieties of sea turtles, fresh water turtles and even some land turtles. Some of the species of sea turtle you can find at the center include green turtles, hawksbill, leatherbacks and olive ridley turtles.
The center is located nearby to what used to be the Mazunte region’s turtle slaughterhouse, making reuse of the area in a constructive manner. The main exhibition contains 13 aquariums showcasing sea turtles through various stages of their development, and other aquariums feature the six freshwater species and two land-based species.
There is also a botanical garden on site featuring local cacti. The garden is dedicated to Dra. Helia Bravo Hollis, in honor of her 62 years of researching the cacti. The center also has a multi-purpose room and a cafeteria and gift shop.
The National Mexican Turtle Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Admission costs 280 pesos, and you must be accompanied by a guide when you visit the center. Guides are available in English, German, Italian, Spanish and Zapoteco.