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About Us

Steve Karpik and Susan Brown live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Both have long histories with turtles, not all of it happy.

Susan and her sister Judy were given red-eared sliders as children, and due to lack of education about their proper care, these beautiful creatures died not long after being brought home from the Kresge's in southern Alberta where they were purchased, along with a plastic dish and palm tree and Hartz so-called "turtle food."

Steve's early experience with turtles was somewhat better; the red-eared sliders that he and his brother Jim were given as children flourished in an aquarium with a diet made up of bugs, worms and cat food. After a couple of years the female turtle was found dead in the tank with the male sitting on top of her. The male turtle (named "Turtle") thrived for years, living to well over 30.

Winnie the Box Turtle

Knowing of Steve's deep affection for all turtles, Susan and a friend Peter bought Steve a box turtle that we named Winnie for Steve's 27th birthday. While we didn't know it at the time, we now suspect that the turtle was captured from the wild, since she was a mature female with a scarred shell.

Winnie lived with us for 16 years. She became a constant but subtle presence in our lives, with her lovely brown eyes and beautiful shell. She would take earthworms right from Steve's hand, with the worm wrapping itself around her nose in a futile attempt to escape her strong claws and jaw. She also liked to eat the occasional piece of mango or strawberry.

In June of 2000, Winnie went off her food and started to get very listless. After a few days, we took her to the vet, and the prognosis was very poor. X-rays showed that Winnie's lungs were full of fluid, and she was severely anemic. The vet suspected either an infection, or, more ominously, heart or kidney failure. After six weeks of medical intervention (that included antibiotic and vitamin shots, along with shots of EPO), Winnie finally died.

After Winnie's death, we both felt an emptiness in our lives. We would look at her tank, expecting to see her looking back at us. We decided that we would wait a couple of months and then acquire another box turtle. But then we came upon Basil and the rest is history.

Steve Karpik

Steve Karpik has a B.Sc. in applied math and physics from York University, an M.Sc. in astrophysics from Queen's University, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo. After graduating with his PhD, Steve was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Environment Canada, a Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto and Senior Scientist, Technology and Computers at the Ontario Science Centre. Since 2013, Steve has worked as an exhibit developer at Blue Rhino Design – a company that he co-founded in 2013. Steve can be contacted at

Susan Brown

Susan Brown has a B.A. in sociology from Queen's University, an M.A. in sociology from York University, and a Ph.D. in education from the Ontario Institute in Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. She worked for three and a half years as the Executive Director of the Toronto Training Board (now called the Toronto Workforce Innovation Group), and is currently a Senior Policy Advisor in the Economic Development and Culture Division at the City of Toronto. She is the former president of the Ontario Cycling Association. She has published a book, The Politics of Individualism: Liberalism, Liberal Feminism and Anarchism (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1993) as well as numerous scholarly and popular articles. Susan can be contacted at