Tortoise Found Ambling Along Busy Dubai Road Finds A New Home

The 31kg male sulcata tortoise was rescued by a member of the public.

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A large tortoise discovered ambling along the side of a busy road has found a home at Dubai’s indoor rain forest attraction.

Pedestrians were shocked to find the 31kg sulcata tortoise taking a stroll through the suburbs last week.

They called staff at Green Planet who came out to pick him up.

The tortoise has a suspected calcium deficiency and is currently undergoing further medical tests, but he is believed to be in good condition.

He is now being nursed back to health in the Australian Walkabout enclosure as it provides the best environment for his unplanned arrival.

Although the reptile is originally native to the southern edge of Sahara Desert, they are unsuited to the searing summer heat of the UAE and can only manage a daytime temperature of about 35C.

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During the hottest parts of the day, the tortoise burrows up to four metres deep into the earth to search for cooler climes. Predominantly a herbivore, the species is the world’s third largest after Galapagos tortoise and Aldabra giant tortoise.

Sulcatas do not make good pets because of their lengthy lifespans – they can live up to 70 years in captivity.

It is not known how old the tortoise is, but his weight at 31kg suggests he is almost an adult, as fully grown they weigh around 36kg. However, exceptionally large Sulcata Tortoises can weigh up to 50kg.

Staff at the Green Planet say the discovery in a residential suburb is a reminder of the all-too common problem of pet abandonment in the UAE.

The creatures are often bought as pets but are later abandoned when the owner becomes bored or is no longer able to care for them. And many are not as lucky as the Green Planet’s latest resident, as they are often released into the desert to fend for themselves.

The City Walk attraction is already home to two exotic animals which were also abandoned on the UAE’s streets. Lonely and Amal, the two slow loris, a type of primate, were found separately within months of each other and now live together in the indoor bio-dome.

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