Lincolnshire Wildlife park to host national turtle sanctuary
A wildlife park in Lincolnshire is to be the site of a new national turtle sanctuary to rescue abandoned animals.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Park is to house an education centre and a number of purpose-built pods, each designed to house about 12 turtles.
The sanctuary hopes eventually to house up to 5,000 turtles and terrapins. It will open this spring.
The reptiles became popular pets in the 1990s due to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, said the park.
The four fictional turtles with human characteristics lived in the sewers and featured in cartoons, films and games. The franchise gained worldwide success.
Steve Nichols, the chief executive of the wildlife park at Friskney, said in reality turtles were an invasive species.
"They last for a long time, get large and can be quite dangerous," he said.
Many turtles are believed to have been abandoned in the countryside by former owners.
Now the centre has been given a government licence to take in the reptiles and re-house them at the park about 11 miles from Skegness.
There will also be research carried out in collaboration with the University of Lincoln to study the animals.
Mr Nichols said the centre had no idea how many turtles had been dumped and they were still being imported into the country.
"We don't want to stop people keeping them, just to make sure our fabulous countryside doesn't bear the brunt of someone's animal."