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American Tortoise Rescue

About American Tortoise Rescue

Our History

Located in Malibu, CA, American Tortoise Rescue was founded by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, a husband and wife team, whose avocation is fostering humane treatment of all animals and reptiles. Founded in 1990, it was the first and only U.S. sanctuary helping rehome turtles and tortoises. They decided to devote their free time to the rescue of these gentle creatures after adopting two captive-bred desert tortoises hatchlings. The sanctuary has expanded rapidly as people all over the world have heard of our work.


Our Mission

American Tortoise Rescue is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to the protection of turtles and tortoises throughout the world.  


Our Founders

Susan is also a partner in Tellem Grody Public Relations Inc. She is voting member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, as well as a member in good standing of the Public Relations Society of America.  She graduated from Mount St. Mary’s College as an RN and completed graduate work in communications at UCLA where she was an extension instructor for more than 10 years.  She also served as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University, is a retired LAPD Reserve Officer Specialist, a member of CERT and serves as a Public Safety Commissioner for the City of Malibu. Tellem raised four children and now spends 12 hours a day on turtle issues and 12 hours a day running her PR agency.


Marshall is a writer and producer who heads  His more than 25 years of experience in video and television includes roles as director of photography, production manager, writer, producer and director for such clients as ESPN, ABC Wide World of Flying, 20th Century Fox, PBS and Telepictures.  Thompson also served as segment producer for the MGM show "LAPD - Life on the Beat."  Thompson is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, International Television Association (ITVA) and the International Documentary Association (IDA). Thompson did his graduate work in television and film at San Diego State.  He speaks Spanish, Italian and French.  He is looking for a buyer for his complete animal series for kids called Alphabet Animals. 

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