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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Islanders debate tortoise's move
Top level talks are taking place on a South Atlantic island over whether a 14 centimetre pet tortoise can be allowed to move in.

Officials are to debate a British family's request to bring Blitzen with them when they emigrate to St Helena.

Rob and Sarah Handley have been given permission to move there along with their three children and two dogs.

But the government is not so sure about their tortoise because nobody has ever asked to bring one before.

The family from Nantwich, in Cheshire, is now waiting to hear the results of government discussions.

They decided to move to St Helena after Mr Handley got a job there .

The children desperately do not want to leave Blitzen behind
Sarah Handley
The question of taking their tortoise arose during an immigration interview when they were told to e-mail the environment minister for an answer.

"We were told they had never been asked that before and didn't have a policy on tortoises," Mrs Handley said.

"I felt a bit daft writing to the government over a tortoise but the children desperately do not want to leave Blitzen behind.

"He is only 6 months old and 14 centimetres long, there are tortoises on St Helena but they are gigantic.

"We e-mailed a week ago and were told they are having a government meeting about it but we have heard nothing else."

Mrs Handley believes there is no reason the tortoise, which cost about 150, will be stopped from entering the island.

She said the family have not discussed what might happen if he is not allowed to go.

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