Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum - Honestly Worth The Visit @ Singapore's Manicured Chinese Garden

I admit that even though i am a Singaporean and have been aware of the The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum since its opening in 2001; i had never made an effort to check it out. 

However, news of its impending closure was all over my Facebook feed and my curiosity was piqued. I decided to bring my dad and the kids for a visit last Sunday as i figured it would do them much good to be out of the house. Furthermore, the museum is scheduled for a final curtain call on 18 March 2018! 

Sadly, Jovyn couldn't join us due to an upset stomach and my mom, being extremely sensitive to heat, opted to go out with her kakis; so much for family bonding!

Corridor of the building modeled after imperial China; in the past, the Chinese Garden was the place to go for lantern festival celebrations and i recalled visiting it back in 2011 for the World of Legends lantern festival.

Painted canvas that covered the wall; a strange combination if you ask me but the contrast would likely make you scrutinize the artwork and, hopefully, discover the entrance to the tortoise museum.

Queue at the ticketing counter; hardly surprisingly after the owner's plea, to Prime Minister Lee for help, garnered over 6,000 shares on Facebook! 

Tickets at S$5 an adult (including a child who is six years and above) and S$3 for senior citizen and a kid below six years; a rather affordable price given that most attractions in Singapore would likely cost about S$10 per person. 

Vegetables for sale at S$2 a bunch - please don't bring your own as the operator is worried that the turtles and tortoises might overeat. In case you are thinking that the museum just wants to earn money, they do stop the sale of vegetables when too much was sold. 

The rather narrow entrance that also served as an exit for visitors! 

Plastic tanks greeted us immediately when we stepped in and housed inside were a number of turtles known to be the most dangerous in the whole world; the alligator snapping turtles! 

You can get really near them and i wondered if there was any incident of kids (or even ignorant adults) attempting to put their fingers into the tank and injuring themselves. Honestly, i wouldn't be surprised if there were. 

Information panel about the tortoise / turtle that was housed in the pond (tank in my opinion) and they came in four languages; English, Malay, Japanese and Chinese! 

Pictures with the African Spurred Tortoise and feeding the big tortoise with vegetables that i purchased for Jerald. I am aware that such closeness with animals would remain deeply etched in a kid's memory. 

Numerous signs, indicating that the premises are monitored 24 hours by a security system, were put up and this was a result of a theft a few years ago; "two men were charged with stealing an endangered star tortoise".

A garden which would have been boring if not for the slow moving reptiles that were freely roaming its grounds! Have you spotted one of them from the above photo?

Aren't they African Spurred Tortoises?

Louise with the docile giant which is also called sulcata tortoise and is the third largest tortoise species in the tortoise world! 

Feeding the cutie with a slice of cucumber. As always, please be gentle and don't force the tortoise to eat if it doesn't want to... For those with kids, it's a good opportunity to impart some educational knowledge. 

Nice spot for photo taking! 

Jerald and my dad - i have one but the expression (mimicking the adorable monk statues) was too exaggerated to be shown in this blog.

Enclosure for the elongated tortoise which didn't seem long in my opinion. It's also called the yellow tortoise for obvious reason. Housed in the same place is the Asian brown tortoise which was hidden in the picture.

Movable enclosures and i like the fact that the operator has put some sort of cover to prevent dehydration, which can be deadly in our weather.

Problem with movable enclosure; there's no sign and i don't know what species they belong to. A herpetologist might know given the red spots all over the tortoises' head and legs. 

Giant Asian Pond Turtle - it's almost as big as the little girl! We all know that tortoises / turtles are known for their longevity and this species has a life span of 220 years! 

A statue in the Western style stood quietly in the midst of unkempt bushes; i was more intrigued by the mynah standing on top of her head.

Jerald sitting on a stone tortoise! I think it's a pity Jovyn didn't join us as she would have a lot of fun, just like her brother did. 

Another enclosure at a corner of the garden - i would have likely disregarded it if not for the visitors congregating there. 

Think they are Malaysian Giant Turtles; not exactly 'giant' in my opinion after seeing the African Spurred Tortoises and the Giant Asian Pond Turtle! 

Feeding time! 

Poor turtle seemed to have a cracked skull even though it appeared to have healed. I might not have much affection for reptiles in general (especially snakes) but i think i would love to keep a tortoise.

Dad under a fake boulder installation; such decoration is common in gardens in China and if you like to see them in a natural setting, check out the impressive stone forest in Yunnan! 

A creep of tortoises on top of a stone island where they would not be disturbed by the noisy and touchy humans! One of them is the common red-eared terrapin that's usually kept as pets. 

Merlion statue right here in the live turtle and tortoise museum?! Maybe i should include it in the merlion family posting i made about eight years ago! 

On a bridge with the backdrop of the main arch of Chinese Garden. The museum is actually nearer to the west entrance which has a carpark although it's still a pretty nice stroll from Chinese Garden MRT station (East Entrance).

Pond with a wooden platform that cuts across - without any fence, it can be exciting to walk along it; especially when you have overexcited and /or boisterous kids next to you! Be mindful not to fall into the water! 

Tortoise statue with a tube at its butt! Think it used to be connected to a water source where water sprouted from its mouth. 

A disused enclosure; according to the website, there are "more than 200 turtles and tortoises from over 60 different species" although another source mentioned over 1,000 turtles and tortoises. No matter what, there are just a lot of them in this museum! 

An elevated wooden structure with many glass tanks! Access was closed from this side and i would show more in just a few moments.

Way more tortoises were sunbathing here! 

Always loving my dad's poses in pictures! I think Joyce has inherited some genes from my dad when it comes to posing although she is in a totally different league altogether; like me, her expression was loud and exaggerated! 

Both of them were a lot tamer. Don't you feel that Jerald is turning into a fine young man?! The boy is going to overshot me, in height (and weight), in a few years' time! God knows if he would still go out with his maternal uncle and auntie when puberty hits. 

Time to explore the glass tanks! 

An important message with a red background - the turtles and tortoises in the museum were not captured from the wild and were, in fact, previously kept as house pets! The museum has a very noble purpose; as a sanctuary for turtles and tortoises that are no longer wanted!

There were many unique species in this 'tank' zone and although some were labelled, some were not; in the case of this tortoise, i am assuming it's the Indian star tortoise.

Leaf turtle - frankly didn't look like leaves to me.

This leaf turtle was hidden in its shell and the entire thing was floating on water. Hm.... i find it's a natural thing and not that the turtle had already died and floating due to decomposition (like a drowned body).

Its neighbor was oblivious though.

Cutest of all had to be the pig-nosed turtles! 

Quite a number were kept in the museum and what i am showing above is just a small fraction! In terms of friendliness, they appeared to be following our moves and would stick nearer to the glass when we closed in for a better look. 

Oh, the notice above explained why the pig nosed turtles were so 'friendly'.

Indian Flap Soft Shelled Turtle - looked like pig nosed turtles yet fiercer in expression, the interesting facts about this species are that they feed on human corpses and can survive more than a year without any food! 

Red-eared turtle is not rare but i don't think you have seen an albino red-eared turtle before! 

Chinese Striped Neck Turtle - i had seen them before at Bangkok's Dusit Zoo even though i didn't know what species they were. Now i know! 
Yellow Footed Tortoise - named due to the yellow / bright orange scales on its front legs. The head may also reflect shades of yellow and orange.

Radiated Tortoise - endemic to Madagascar, i thought it kind of looked like the indian star tortoise. I am more curious as to why the name 'radiated'.

Notice the rainbow on its shell?! 

Asian Soft Shelled Turtle - i was wondering why it looked so familiar until my dad reminded me; this is the species Chinese used to make turtle soup! 

Back when i was living in the village, my family purchased a live one to make soup and i remember my mum telling all the kids not to put their fingers inside as the species is known to bite and wouldn't let go even if it's dead! That really scared the hell out of me!

Eastern Painted Turtle - named because of the red and yellow stripes on their body that seemed painted! An interesting fact of this species - it will not eat unless it is fully submerged in water.

Spotted Pond Turtle - found along the branches of Indus and Ganges rivers, this species is considered at risk given its small population.

Matamata - in Singapore, the name would have meant the police although the species originated from South America. It's just not the name that's special; its appearance is also one of a kind.

The head is flat with tiny eyes - like a dragon! There's another interesting fact about this species and you can actually confirm with the above picture; it's the only known turtle species that can 'smile'!

Alligator Snapping Turtle - this was already available for viewing when we first entered the live turtle and tortoise museum but this was much smaller in size.

Snapping Turtle - hm.... what's the difference with the alligator snapping turtle? According to the notice on the tank, it's the world first living turtle and the species has been in existence for over 200 million years! 

Looks wise, it was less vicious looking compared to the alligator snapping turtle. However, it's considered a dangerous species and import for breeding is disallowed in many countries. 

Snake Necked Turtle - the only turtle species i shy away from as it resembles too much like my life's greatest nemesis and fear; snakes! 

Imagine just looking at the head and you would know what i mean. Another name for it is stinker as it "emits a strong smelling liquid to scare away the predators". Sounds like the turtle version of a skunk! 

The auntie with her nephew.

Random photos of other tortoises / turtles in the museum. The last one was a turtle with hardly a shell left; guess there's an accident or something but for sure, it can't survive in the wild.

Back to the garden compound again - another movable enclosure with Indian star tortoises, i think. This species is extremely popular as i often see them in news; that they were confiscated by custom officials since it's a protected species. 

Noticeably lesser people surrounding the free-roaming African Spurred Tortoises and i thought it would be an opportune time for picture taking! 

Mission completed! 

Leaving the museum without realizing i have forgotten to check out something; the museum is said to have a good collection of turtle-inspired "toys, ornaments, tableware, and even furniture"! :(

Note - do wash your hands if you have touched the turtles / tortoises as they may carry the Salmonella bacteria. 

With a closure that's inevitable in my opinion (extension might just stretch for a few months), i believe donations would be helpful for the operator to find a new place to continue its mission as a sanctuary for abandoned tortoises / turtles and at the same time, be an unusual attraction in Singapore for everyone. 


1 Chinese Garden Road 
Singapore 619795

Operating Hours
10.00 am till 7.00 pm (Daily)

+65 6268 5363


Adult - S$5
Child (Below 6 years old) - S$3
Senior Citizen - S$3

Last Day of Operation - 18 March 2018

[All photos were taken using iPhone 7+]

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