Five radiated tortoises that were smuggled illegally out of Madagascar years ago now have a safe home at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo.
Five radiated tortoises that were smuggled illegally out of Madagascar years ago now have a safe home at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo.

Long trip to Childers zoo for tortoises

YEARS ago a group of critically endangered radiated tortoises were smuggled illegally out of Madagascar and seized in Hong Kong.

Five of those tortoises are now destined to live a long safe life at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo in Childers.

Smuggled radiated tortoises are often destined for the pet trade or food markets, with their shells used as ornaments.

Zoo owner Ian Jenkins said it had been a long journey to get the tortoises and staff were excited to have them arrive on Thursday.

“We put in an expression of interest years ago but it has taken so long to get them out of Hong Kong and then they were in quarantine in the Adelaide Zoo,” Mr Jenkins said.

“We actually built their enclosure four years ago.”

The five radiated tortoises safe in their home at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo.
The five radiated tortoises safe in their home at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo.

The animals were originally taken from the wild but Mr Jenkins said tremendous work behind the scenes led to Zoo and Aquarium Association member zoos being regarded as the best home.

“They looked at different options but finding them homes in different zoos was the safest and best end result for them,” he said.

“They are reasonably common pets in some parts of the world but there is often no control on breeding so there could be inbreeding.

“So it is important to have safe captive breeding and we will follow recommendations from the Zoo Association but right now they are nowhere near ready.”

The arrival of the tortoises has come at the perfect time as the zoo reopens tomorrow after being closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The zoo will be open today and tomorrow, Friday to Sunday the following weeks, and the whole school holidays.

The zoo is currently restricted to 20 visitors at a time so call 4126 3332 to book.



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