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Posted 1 October 2002
Sydney is an Asiatic soft-shelled turtle who lives in a water-garden centre. He's not for sale but is a popular attraction with customers. Nonetheless, he is no doubt suffering severe psychological trauma as he lives alone in a small fish tank.
By the time you read this, Sydney may be in a better place. Two caring individuals who had visited the shop to buy plants for their frog garden pond spotted him swimming frantically backwards and forwards - all he could do was constantly swim the short length of his barren tank.
The couple sensed that the animal was suffering and spoke to the manager. They were told that if a more suitable home could be found then the shop would happily let him go - it appears that he came to his current home from even worse circumstances.
They contacted Animal Aid for help in finding him some comfort and quality of life and we told them that we knew of no reptile rescue centres in the UK that we could confidently recommend. All have links with zoos and the pet trade and so there would be no guarantee that the animal would stay in safe hands.
We sought expert advice from a reptile biologist and were advised that Sydney was a particularly sad case. Turtles of his species are prone to hyperaggression when kept in confined quarters with others - this is how captivity stress manifests itself. They will attack and kill.
We are now desperately trying to find a decent home for Sydney - even though we know that there are thousands more like him in similar circumstances. He may have lived to 50 years or more in nature and grown into the majestic creature he was born to be. In captivity he hasn't lived at all.