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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on June 19, 2002 at 21:28:16:
BBC (London, UK) 16 June 02 Charity tries to rehome abandoned turtles
The Ninja Turtle craze in the 1980s brought with it an unwelcome side effect as hundreds of children were given baby terrapins as pets. But as they grew bigger, many were abandoned.
Now hundreds of the unwanted creatures in the South West are being flown out to Italy where the climate is warmer.
Following the success of the film Teenage Mutant Hero Turles, hundreds of children wanted to own their own turtle. Everyone went turtle mad, even adults got caught up in the turtle mania.
Although turtles start off the size of a 50p piece, many people did not realise they can grow and grow into the size of a dinner plate.
And when people got bored with their ever-growing terrapins, many were abandoned.
"I am afraid they were dumped on us. All the children had terrapins and when they started to grow they cost quite a bit to feed," said turtle lover Patricia Timbrell.
Terrapin carer Christine Fifield said some of the turtles came to them in an appalling state.
"The tank was absolutely filthy, it was cracked and leaking, there was stale food on top of the water and they didn't look at all well.
"I thought how sad it was that people just give in to kids and buy pets that are so obviously unsuitable for being kept in captivity and in this country."
There are now so many unwanted terrapins, a charity has stepped in to help.
"With the help of Richard Branson and Virgin Express, we're flying them over to Italy where there is a terrapin centre," said Bob Langton of The British Chelonia Group.
"The terrapins are going to be introduced to a warm water lake where they will live for the rest of their lives."
The turtles fly out next week for their retirement in the sun.
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