Meet Peanut, a red-footed tortoise named after his
peanut-shaped shell.

Red-footed tortoises typically hail from South America. But
Peanut was spotted roaming on its own in Jurong and is likely to have been
abandoned by its owner.

Peanut and many other exotic animals are likely to have
arrived in Singapore through illegal means. Despite fairly stringent laws,
Singapore is still considered a major center of illegal wildlife trade. In
2017, it’s named a “country of primary concern” by
wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC.

The exotic pet trade can be very cruel, said Ms Anbarasi
Boopal (pictured below), deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research
and Education Society (ACRES)
. “These animals are taken away from
the wild and smuggled in horrible conditions just to be sold here,” she told The UrbanWire.


She added: “When some owners get tired of taking care of an
exotic pet because they don’t know how to or don’t want it anymore, the animals
are often abandoned and left to fend for themselves.”

The ACRES team would step in to rescue, treat and hopefully
rehabilitate the abandoned animals when they’re alerted to the sightings.
That’s how they came to take Peanut under their wings.


Peanut is now housed at ACRES’ “sanctuary” which is located
in the Choa Chu Kang area at 91 Jln Lekar. The sanctuary acts as a small rest
stop for animals to regain their health before returning to the wild. But Peanut’s
chances of returning to its birthplace are fairly low as the team has to find a
suitable facility to send it home.

Another resident in the sanctuary is Todd, a laidback
radiated tortoise that likes eating vegetables and flowers. He was originally
kept as a pet but his owner later handed it over to ACRES.

Originating from Madagascar, the radiated tortoise is
critically endangered.

There are also 4 African-spurred tortoises, a popular breed
in the pet trade, who take shelter at the sanctuary.

All 4 of them – Granite, Garnet, Lola and Timothy seem
outgoing and responsive. They’re likely to have been abandoned by their owners


Zebra, a Chinese stripe-necked turtle which likes vegetables
and fish, is likely to be a long-term resident at the sanctuary. ACRES is
unable to secure a protected area for its release.

Ms Boopal said she hopes more people will develop compassion
for animals.

“All animals can feel pain, just like you and me.”

“You don’t have to love them but as long as we don’t hurt them, it’s still good enough.”

If you do come across people keeping or selling prohibited wildlife or their parts, contact ACRES at or 97837782.