Hundreds of turtles and tortoises, including the rare and endangered ones, are at risk after their Singapore sanctuary was forced to relocate after government announced redevelopment plans in the area.
The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, which houses around 1,000 turtles and tortoises and is a Guinness World Record holder for largest collection of tortoise and turtle items, opened in 2001 and had been popular at the Chinese Gardens.
However, after years of thriving, there had been criticisms online, talking about the poor conditions that the reptiles were kept in – leading authorities to evict them and repurpose the area.
“I gave up quite a lot for this, and it’s tough. My son’s university education fees have gone into keeping this place alive,” Tan told local media.
Tan said her father originally created the museum and received the Guinness World Record, and their family has been collecting the animals for 40 years now, most of which were rescued after being abandoned.
She spent $250,000 on their new venue, but it is only for a short two-year lease and their situation have raised concerns for the future of the turtles and tortoises.
Tan said they have around 50 different species or turtles and tortoises, including those classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
They have African spurred tortoises and Indian star tortoises, which were often taken for exotic pet trade and are listed as “vulnerable” by IUCN. Reeves’ turtle, which is used in Chinese medicine and has been overhunted in the wild, can also be found in the museum.
“Friends of the museum have been generous with their donations, and I’ve started receiving visitors from places as far away as Russia, Poland, and even Israel,” Tan said. “It does give me hope for the future.”