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Darrell Senneke  - Director / Trustee  

Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved

The Director of the World Chelonian Trust is Darrell Senneke.  Darrell, born into a large family was twice blessed: first with a love for animals and second with a very understanding mother. Over the course of his adolescence a never-ending parade of creatures shared his living space.  These included turtles, with the small bowls, dried flies, ant eggs and lack of care instructions that invariably and sadly accompanied them. 


In those days Trachemys scripta elegans, Graptemys geographica and even Podocnemis unifilis could be bought quite cheaply from any "Five and Dime" and because of the lack of knowledge at the time nearly all were doomed to slow, sad deaths.  The web site "Hatchling Haven" that Darrell created was in some ways a penance for those poor lost hatchlings of long ago.


His first Chelonian success was with a pair of Gopherus berlandieri which were bought from those self same "Five and Dimes" for the price of five dollars each when he was eleven years old. These tortoises were with him for six years and taught him the pride of success and the love of accomplishment. Sadly they were lost in a tragic accident, but the chelonian flame had been lit.


In college Darrell had his heart set upon becoming a veterinarian but such was not to be and after college he went to work in the research labs of a major oil company and started his rugby career with the "Chicago Blaze RFC". For the next twenty years interests were divided between work, family and varying successes in rugby as a player, then captain, and then finally as a coach of both club and representative sides in the Chicago area.  Included in this was coaching a Women’s team: "The Chicago Women’s RFC" into the National Championship Tournament.  Even in those years of athletic endeavor there were always turtles and tortoises around.  Upon retiring from the sport he loved, interest in chelonia sparked anew and with serious intent he pursued it with increased vigor. Wife Pat, understanding woman number two, puts up with all of the associated odors, time and space commitments of a sizable collection.  Daughter Sara shares his love of all animals and as Darrell puts it "knows more about turtles now, at the age of sixteen, than I did when I was twenty-five".


Over the last twenty years Darrell has successfully bred Testudo ibera, Testudo hermanni, Testudo graeca, Testudo horsfieldii, Glyptemys insculpta, Terrapene carolina, Chrysemys picta, Indotestudo elongata, Geochelone denticulata , Geochelone carbonaria, Emys orbicularis, Trachemys scripta,  Kinosternon subrubrum  and Geochelone pardalis in the Chicago climate. As his knowledge has grown so has the circle of friends who share his passion for turtles. This in many ways was broadened by his discovery in 1990 of colleagues who shared his interest in chelonia on the Internet. Suddenly an international community of people became available to trade information, hopes and failures with. While he was a member of the National Turtle and Tortoise Society and the Chicago Herpetological Society travel constraints restricted his level of involvement. The Internet knows no travel constraints.


Darrell was asked to attend the meeting in Fort Worth, Texas in 2001 where the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) was formed as a representative of the Private Sector, becoming one of the initial TSA “Partners”.  Through the maturing and growth of this organization he has served as an advisor to the Steering Committee for that organization in the realm of Internet communications, taking on the role of Webmaster and helping to set up the Internet presence of many of the Taxon Management Groups (TMG). He also serves as the TMG “Point Person” for the Species Genus Indotestudo elongata.   In October of 2002 Darrell accepted a position on the Steering Committee of the TSA. 


When the Board of the World Chelonian Trust was formed, Darrell was asked to join.  His organizational talents, team building skills and analytical thinking learned through long experience in the industrial research world made a significant contribution. He was selected as the Director by a vote of the Board of Trustees and continues to serve in that position today.  In addition to the role of Director he also serves as Webmaster.  


In the Spring of 2003 Darrell was honored to be invited to be a member of the worldwide IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG)  which he accepted.  


Is is the intent of Darrell, along with your other Trustees:  to make the World Chelonian Trust an organization that people and organizations at all levels of expertise will wish to work with. 

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