Three-legged tortoise called Hope who gets around on wheels could help save critically endangered species | UKNews

A three-legged tortoise called Hope, who uses wheels to get around, could help save its critically endangered species from extinction.

The animal was rescued from smugglers after being found in a suitcase with 56 other tortoises by customs officials in Hong Kong in 2019.

The owner, a would-be wildlife trader traveling from the Comoro Islands, was later jailed for two years.

Plowshare tortoise Hope is now settled in at Chester Zoo and uses a set of rollers designed by experts to help move around.

Conservationists are now aiming for Hope to live up to its nickname by joining a European conservation-breeding program and helping save the species from extinction.

Undated handout photo issued by Chester Zoo of a three-legged tortoise, which was rescued from smugglers is settling into a new life on wheels at a zoo.  The ploughshare tortoise, which is now at Chester Zoo where it has been nicknamed Hope, was discovered by customs officials in Hong Kong in 2019 in a suitcase with 56 other live, endangered tortoises.  Issue date: Tuesday July 5, 2022.

Read more: Zoo battles to save dozens of species from extinction by cryogenically freezing genetic samples

Curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at Chester Zoo, Dr Gerardo Garcia, said: “Hope is an incredibly special tortoise, for many reasons.

“Firstly, ploughshare tortoises are exceptionally rare. It’s not just the world’s most threatened species of tortoise, it’s one of the most threatened animals on the planet, full stop.

“Fewer than 300 now remain in the wild, mostly due to their overexploitation by illegal wildlife traders – leaving them functionally extinct in their home of Madagascar.

“In addition Hope has a remarkable life story, having been rescued from smugglers, discovered to have a missing leg and then having a prosthetic mobility support specially fitted to help him get around.

“It works wonderfully well – he moves even quicker than his three neighbours.

“He’s settling in nicely to his new home and hopefully, in several years’ time once he’s more developed, he’ll go on to produce offspring and contribute to the survival of the species thanks to the vital insurance population in conservation zoos.”

In the wild, the ploughshare tortoise is only found on a small remote stretch of sand, rock and bamboo on Madagascar.

Just 63 of the animals live legally outside Madagascar as part of the conservation breeding programmes.

The happy news about Hope comes as 109 live animals including 35 turtles were found in luggage as two women tried to board a Thai Airways flight to India in an unrelated case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *