Fears after rare tortoises stolen

IPSWICH: Police are today hunting a thief who stole two rare tortoises from a specialist shop leaving the owner fearing for their survival.

The culprit swiped the infant grey/brown giant African Sulcata tortoises after a daringly breaking into a two-foot locked tank at Viking Aquatics, in St Margaret’s Street.

Andrew Cook, owner of the shop, said: “They were taken from a secure display unit. It had glass sliding doors on the front with a lock on them. The thief obviously used a screwdriver to lever the glass up and take one of the sliding doors out, which gave them access to the enclosure.”

Despite staff patrolling the premises, the thief managed to leave the shop undetected with the two-to-three inch tortoises, which retail at �150 each.

The breed - which live for between 60 to 100 years - eventually end up around two feet long and can weigh more than 200lbs.

The stolen two-year-old tortoises need special care in relation to the dietary requirements and conditions needed to ensure their survival.

Mr Cook said: “I only hope someone is going to look after them properly. They need a specific environment. They should have the correct UV lighting and warmth otherwise potentially they will die.”

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The theft, which occurred between 3pm and 5pm on Monday, has been distressing for staff who cared for the animals.

Mr Cook said: “When you have something you look after it and all its requirements. It is just frustrating when something like this happens, especially when we don’t have any control over the way the animal is going to be kept and looked after.

“I suspect whoever did this knows what they were looking for, but it is just a guess.”

Sulcata tortoises are the largest continental land tortoise with recorded carapace lengths to 83 cm (more than 2.5 feet) and a maximum recorded weight of 105 kg (about 240 lbs.).

They need lots of space and are also extremely strong. The tortoises require a very high fibre intake. Due to their rapid rate of growth, their demand for calcium and mineral trace elements is high.

A calcium-D3 supplement should be provided daily.

If you can help police with their inquiry telephone the Crime Investigation Bureau on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.