Singapore’s Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest collection of these long-living shelled creatures. Drop by this quirky attraction to see them sunbathing in the gardens and feed them lettuce.
The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is located within the Chinese and Japanese Gardens in western Singapore. While admission to the gardens is free, the museum is privately run and charges an entrance fee of S$5 for adults and S$3 for children to help with upkeep.
The highlight is the pond and garden which is home to hundreds of free-ranging turtles and tortoises. If you’ve got food (leafy green veggies are sold at the entrance for S$2 a bundle) they will recognise this and dozens will rush towards you (as much as turtles and tortoises can ‘rush’) hoping to get a nibble. The largest animals are kept separately in shallow pens, but you can still reach in to offer them a leaf of lettuce or give them a pet.
Turtles and tortoises are considered lucky in Chinese culture and above the 82 year-old river turtle, the oldest known turtle of its kind, a sign invites visitors to make a wish. Other interesting animals in the collection include alligator snapping turtles from the USA, a gigantic African spurred tortoise, pig-nosed turtles, golden Siamese temple turtles and snake-necked turtles from Australia. Some of the turtles and tortoises are endangered species, but in high demand in the illegal pet trade. The most valuable animals, like the mata mata turtle from South America, are now monitored by security cameras after an incident of attempted turtle-theft.
Although it is called a museum, little information is provided about the turtles and tortoises on display. A visit to the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is entertaining for the chance to feed and pet the animals, but has the potential to be a lot more educational.
It’s worth mentioning that not all of the animals enjoy the freedom of the pond and garden and many are kept in cramped terrariums stacked on top of each other. The conditions may look dismal, but many of the animals are unwanted pets that the museum has graciously taken in and their current living conditions are better than the alternative. The museum will be relocating by the end of 2013 and hopes to have bigger, better facilities.
How to get there
Nearest MRT: Chinese Garden
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 3rd December, 2015.