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Tortoise Island opens at Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum

Tortoise Island opens at Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum

“Tortoise Island” has just been inaugurated by H.S.H. Princess Charlene.  It makes a visit to the Museum even more rewarding, in a fun way, while raising visitors’ awareness of issues affecting tortoises and turtles.

This new area has been created on the west panoramic terrace and offers a 360° view over Monaco, the sea and the mountains.

Tortoise Island:  a relaxation area organised around three different sections

A new section for living animals:  a space devoted to discovering and protecting both tortoises and turtles.  Children will be able to see the spurred tortoises – sulcata tortoises (the 3rd largest land-dwelling tortoise in the world), which come from Mali.  These tortoises are real ambassadors of a fascinating, millennia-old world …  This space complements the large tank holding a turtle that is much loved by young and old.

A play area with games on the theme of the sea:  a fun space where young children will find, for example, a 15-metre long game representing a whale skeleton.  This game was specially created for the Museum with a nod to the skeleton that can be found in the rooms on the first floor.  The games are made of environmental quality wood.


A lounge area for relaxation:  the relaxation area on the west terrace is complemented by seats, pergolas and a new raised terrace for parents, where they can enjoy a drink, have a rest and watch their children enjoying themselves in these areas.

The new boarders at the Oceanographic Museum – the spurred tortoises from Mali – an extraordinary story that’s very topical:
These fascinating creatures date from time immemorial and are the subject of myths and legends.  However, the arrival of these seven tortoises wasn’t all plain sailing.

These tortoises were given to H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco last February during the Prince’s official visit as a sign of friendship and cooperation between the Republic of Mali and the Principality of Monaco.  H.S.H. Prince Albert II wanted to give them to the Oceanographic Museum to create a discovery and awareness-raising space for the public to help protect endangered tortoises.

Thanks to the Monegasque company ES-KO, which specialises in transportation and logistics in areas subject to tension and has close contacts with Mail, the tortoises were looked after and transported by plane from Bamako.  After a long journey by air and by road, they arrived safe and sound at the Oceanographic Museum.

These tortoises are known as spurred tortoises (they owe their name to the deep ridges that can be seen on their shells).  They are aged between 2 and 20 and the largest ones weigh more than 20 kilos.  They have an enclosed landscaped area of 80 m² to live in.  The floor of the enclosure is composed of earth and sand, and there are plants, rocks, tree stumps and access to water, so the tortoises can move around, find shelter, have a drink and cool off while the visitors, both adults and children, look on.

They can also shelter in the “tortoises’ bubble,” which will be kept at a specific temperature to protect them against cold weather.  This 20-m² bubble will be specially adapted and carefully situated to allow the public to have a good view of the turtles.

There are 310 species of tortoises and turtles worldwide.  Of the eight species of turtles found in the oceans, five can be found in the Mediterranean.  One out of every two tortoises is now threatened with extinction … because of human activity.