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Busy year for turtle rescues in Hanoi, Vietnam

2014 has been a busy year for turtle rescues in Hanoi, 28 turtles of 6 species (Indotestudo elongata, Cuora mouhotii, Cuora picturata, Geoemyda spengleri, Manouria impressa and Malayemys subtrijuga) have been handed into the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) office in Hanoi for transferring down to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. The majority of these animals have been brought in as a result of the growing trade trend in Hanoi, in which demand for exotics such as tortoises and freshwater turtles along with lizards, geckos and snakes seems to be growing.

Many of the animals were reportedly purchased through Facebook traders. But difficult to keep as pets, many of these luckless reptiles are becoming sick or dying. With very special requirements in terms of habitat (temperature and humidity) and diet, very few keepers are able to keep their pets alive. When considering the lifespan of many turtles is over 40 years, to keep them is a lifelong responsibility.

A large number of the animals are in very poor condition when handed in. After months in captivity in less than ideal conditions, they have been underweight, weak and sick. Unsurprisingly, some of the weaker animals have died shortly after being handed in. However, many of the animals have made it down to the rescue centre in Cuc Phuong and are settling into their new home. Hopefully, some of these animals will make it back to the wild in the future.

Some animals in the intensive care unit (ICU) have required tube-feeding since August 2014 as they had been too weak to feed themselves. It will likely require many more months of intensive treatment if they are to make a full recovery.

Coura picturata
Picture above: A critically endangered and endemic Southern Vietnamese Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) with a feeding tube in place, this incredibly weak turtle could not even move its legs when it arrived with the ATP and required tube-feeding 3 times weekly since August 2014.




Here is an update on some of the lucky animals that have been handed in the past:

Splinter (picture below): protected Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata). Splinter was received in July 2013 after falling from a fourth floor balcony in Hanoi during which the shell was split almost in half. He is now settling in to the main population at the TCC.

Splinter rescued


Goldie (pictures below): Arrived in the office on the 23rd of January 2014. Having been painted gold, he is now returning to his more natural brown colour and enjoying a 64m2 enclosure set in the national park where his species naturally occurs.

Goldie before being transfered

Goldie before being transferred to TCC

Goldie after being transferred to TCC

Please support conservation of Asian tortoise and freshwater turtles. DO NOT BUY TURTLES AS PETS. The ATP would like to remind you:

- Many species of tortoises and freshwater turtles are protected under national law in Vietnam and elsewhere in the region, purchase of such protected species is considered as illegal.

- Most species of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Vietnam and the south-east Asia region are threatened by wildlife trade for food, medicine and pets. Please do not add to the pressure of extinction by buying turtles.

- Do not encourage your friends to buy turtles as pets. If you are keeping turtles, please consider transferring them to a rescue centre.


Press release: Timothy McCormack & Nguyen Thu Thuy - ATP

Date: 23rd December 2014

Download the English version here

Download the Vietnamese version here


We would like to thank those individuals who have transferred animals to the rescue centre in Cuc Phuong National Park and are now aware of the importance of protecting Vietnam’s threatened turtle species. We would also like to thank Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for supporting care of these animals whilst in Hanoi and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) veterinarians who have provided supportive care for animals in Hanoi before they can be moved to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC).

disney wcs

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For more information please contact:

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation
Office: Room#1806, CT1, C14 Bac Ha Buidling, To Huu Street,
Nam Tu Liem district, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 24 7302 8389





MBZ ATP would like to thanks the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund for supporting this website
Asian Turtle Program - Indo-Myanmar Conservation
Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu Street, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
PO Box 46
Phone:+84 (0) 24 7302 8389

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