Galapagos Islands turtles found in airport suitcase

Galapagos Islands turtles found in airport suitcase

Nearly 200 turtles, all less than three months old, were found in a suitcase at an airport in the Galapagos Islands on Sunday morning in what officials say was an attempt to smuggle the animals off the islands. The turtles were discovered by staff at Seymour Airport on Baltra Island, located in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are a province of Ecuador.
In a statement released by the airport, X-ray machines detected irregularities in a red suitcase that allegedly carried souvenirs. When staff opened the suitcase, they found 185 young turtles wrapped in plastic, including 10 that were dead.

Marcelo Mata, Environment Minister of Ecuador, tweeted on Sunday afternoon that he categorically rejects “these crimes against the wildlife and natural heritage of Ecuadorians”. He said the turtles were taken from the wild and the survivors were undergoing veterinary examinations.
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No charges were filed on Monday afternoon in connection with the suitcase as airport officials wait for state and environmental police to investigate, but the people who registered the suitcase have been held for questioning, according to the report. airport release.

The turtles were meant to be sent to the Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil. Famous from Charles Darwin’s visit to the islands in the 1830s, Galapagos tortoises are the largest of their species and can live for over 100 years. They are considered a vulnerable species in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and have been protected by the Ecuadorian government since 1970.

The illegal sale of these rare turtles can fetch thousands of dollars, but smuggling any animal from the islands can result in one to three years in prison. Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.


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