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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Rescued tortoises get spa retreat
African Hingeback tortoise
The African Hingeback is native to Nigeria, the Congo and Ivory Coast
A group of rescued tortoises at an aquarium in Dorset have been given their own new "spa retreat".

The five African Hingeback tortoises have lived at the Oceanarium in Bournemouth since they were seized by customs officers five years ago.

Their new home has been designed to replicate the tortoises' natural African jungle floor environment.

It features water pools and heat lamps and a humidifying spray system to simulate daily rainfall.

The African Hingeback tortoise is a protected species and is native to Nigeria, the Congo and Ivory Coast.

Recreate jungle

The Oceanarium's five tortoises were seized at customs during an attempt to illegally ship them into the country.

The animals will move into their new home, which is four times the size of their previous enclosure, over the weekend.

Oliver Buttling, curator at the Oceanarium, said: "We always seek to provide the creatures with as close to their natural environments as possible.

"These tortoises live on the jungle floor and enjoy a damp, warm and shady habitat.

"We have tried to replicate the jungle floor in this enclosure using damp leaf litter and bark shavings and we've planted tropical plants to make it as natural and real as possible.

"Their new home will have a maintained temperature of between 24-27C (75-81F) and the area is kept moist with daily 'rainfall' from mist machines."

The Oceanarium also offers sanctuary for a group of green sea turtles, which are as critically endangered as pandas and tigers.

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19 Aug 07 |  South of Scotland
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04 Jul 07 |  South West Wales
DNA search gives hope to tortoise
30 Apr 07 |  Science/Nature

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