Posted on Monday 3rd April, 2017
yellow bellied slider turtles were cruelly abandoned by a callous member of the
public on the door step of Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium this week.
man dumped a bucket with the three tiny turtles in it at the aquarium entrance,
claiming he had found them locally and left quickly before the animal staff
could talk to him to explain that the aquarium cannot accept any more
freshwater turtles or terrapins. The
three turtles, measuring around 12cm long, were left in a bucket of filthy
water and the aquarists at the aquarium checked their health before placing
them into clean water.
has been illegal for any EU zoo or aquarium to accept additional freshwater
turtles since 2015, under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulations. Any zoos
or aquariums that breed or acquire these and many other commonly kept terrapins
& turtles can face prosecution under the legislation. Only a small number of limited permits are
granted to re-home these animals under strict rules.
placed the Newquay aquarium in the unenviable position of either finding a
legal home for these tiny turtles or being forced to have them put to
sleep. The aquarium also potentially
faced prosecution if they were not removed from the premises. Against all odds the turtles were found a new
bellied sliders Trachemys scripta scripta
and their close relatives red eared terrapins have been banned as being
invasive species. Coming from North America they can survive winters in parts
of the EU and pose a threat to native wildlife if released or escaped into the
Matchett, Curator at Blue Reef Aquarium said “We currently have a small group
of fresh water turtles and terrapins that include this species, but even if we
did have the room for more, we cannot re-home them. It saddens me to say that we were strongly
advised that we would have to have the turtles euthanized as we cannot accept
any of these animals under the new legislation.” The regulations were brought in to protect EU
wildlife from alien species that can spread diseases and out-compete native
“Pet owners often expect zoos and aquariums to
take their unwanted turtles when they no longer wish to care for them and it is
now a common problem for all zoos, aquariums and rescue centres that if we did
take them in we can face legal action.
What many people don’t realise is that they can live for up to 25 years
and get quite large. Reptiles are a long term commitment and people need to be
far more responsible as pet owners.”
story had an unexpected good turn of events for the turtles. The RSPCA were contacted to see if they could
help find a home. After an extensive UK
search they managed to find a rescue centre that had three spaces left on their
permit to take these turtles.
rescue centre that has re-homed the turtles is now full and wishes to remain
anonymous as they cannot legally help with more turtles.
To find out more about Blue Reef Aquarium please visit www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk/newquay