Okinawa Zoo and Museum released photos of the types of stolen turtle including the rare Ryukyu leaf species Photo: Okinawa Zoo & Museum/AFP

Dozens of endangered turtles disappear from Okinawa zoo


More than 60 endangered turtles have disappeared from a zoo in Japan's southernmost province in a suspected theft, officials said Thursday.

"We feed them twice a week and a keeper noticed their number was clearly low," said Kozue Ohgimi, zoo section chief at Okinawa Zoo and Museum, told AFP.

Officials later found cable ties used to secure netting over the enclosure housing the turtles had been removed at several spots.

"The nets were loose enough to enable an adult to sneak into the area," Ohgimi told AFP on the phone.

Officials fear the turtles may have been stolen for sale on the black market, where they are valued as exotic pets. "They are traded for high prices," Ohgimi said.

The disappearances have been reported to local police, who are investigating, zoo officials said.

The turtles are small, measuring about a maximum 20 centimeters long.

In all, the zoo said 64 turtles have disappeared -- 15 Ryukyu leaf turtles and 49 yellow-margined box turtles.

Both types are on the red list of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Both species are also designated as "natural treasures" by Japan's cultural affairs agency -- meaning commercial trade in them is banned

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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A lot of Japanese people seem to have an appetite for endangered species.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japanese? These turtles will be in the Chinese restaurant / quack's storeroom faster than you can say "Ni hao".

5 ( +6 / -1 )

There's a large and profitable trade in illegal turtles in Japan, going back decades at least. You'd think that the responsible section chief at the Okinawa Zoo would know that, and take better security precautions than "cable ties used to secure netting... (which were) loose enough to enable an adult to sneak into the area," would you not?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Coming to an exotic pet shop near you soon! - I've always been shocked and disgusted by the endangered animals for sale in exotic pet shops in Tokyo. I searched them out when I first came here. All kinds of Australian lizards, birds, insects, arachnids and marsupials, all of which are protected and banned from export. Many endangered animals from South America and Africa as well. It's like Japanese drivers ignoring stop signs and red lights. There are laws in place, but they are rarely (if ever) enforced.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Poor little guys.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One of my favorite animals, raised a few turtle species and this is just sad as well as revolting. Why would some selfish person take an animal knowing it’s an endangered species? Unless they got big, big money for doing it. Hope they find these disgusting people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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