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Three-legged-tortoise could save species

hope the three legged tortise
hope the three legged tortise Image credit: news.sky.com

A three legged tortoise rescued from smugglers could save its endangered species from extinction.

The reptile, called Hope, was found hidden inside a suitcase by Hong Kong custom officials in 2019.

After being rescued the ploughshare tortoise is now using a set of rollers at his new home in Chester Zoo where it will be joining a European conservation-breeding programme in a bid to save its species from becoming extinct.

Curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at Chester Zoo, Dr Gerardo Garcia, said: "Hope is an incredibly special tortoise, for many reasons.

"Firstly, ploughshare tortoises are exceptionally rare. It's not just the world's most threatened species of tortoise, it's one of the most threatened animals on the planet, full stop.

"Fewer than 300 now remain in the wild, mostly due to their overexploitation by illegal wildlife traders - leaving them functionally extinct in their home of Madagascar.

"In addition Hope has a remarkable life story, having been rescued from smugglers, discovered to have a missing leg and then having a prosthetic mobility support specially fitted to help him get around.

"It works wonderfully well - he moves even quicker than his three neighbours.

"He's settling in nicely to his new home and hopefully, in several years' time once he's more developed, he'll go on to produce offspring and contribute to the survival of the species thanks to the vital insurance population in conservation zoos."

In the wild, the ploughshare tortoise is only found on a small remote stretch of sand, rock and bamboo on Madagascar.