Turtle museum at Chinese Garden to relocate to Yishun in January

Museum owner Connie Tan, with an African spurred tortoise, at the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum in Chinese Garden in Jurong on Jan 12, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum has found a new home after 18 years at Chinese Garden.

Come January, it will be relocating to leisure park Orto in Yishun, where the Bottle Tree Park used to be.

The museum, which houses around 500 turtles, tortoises and terrapins, had been told to vacate its current premises by March 2018.

But museum owner Connie Tan, 48, posted on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Facebook page in March, appealing for help as the eviction deadline drew closer.

PM Lee replied the next day, saying government agencies would be looking into the case.

Ms Tan later posted an update on Facebook saying the museum's lease had been extended by the National Parks Board.

She told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Dec 26) the intended date of the move had been by the end of the year, but there were delays in the construction of the new museum. "But, definitely, we will move in January," she confirmed.

The new museum will be about 10 per cent bigger than the Chinese Garden location. It will also have bigger pens for the animals.

Ms Tan, who is the younger of two daughters, started the museum with her late father in 2001 to give children a chance to learn about different species of turtles and tortoises.

She has given up her events management business to find a solution for the housing of the turtles.

Ms Tan said she had been looking for a new site for the past few years but without success, as the changes of use for the plots of land she was interested in were not approved.

Following the reply from PM Lee and the subsequent follow-up with the authorities, she narrowed her choices to Sungei Tengah and Orto.

She eventually decided on the latter about four months ago.

Renovation works at the new premises of the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum at Orto in Yishun. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/THE LIVE TURTLE AND TORTOISE MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE

However, there are still challenges ahead for the museum. "In terms of funding, I am very much in trouble now," she said.

The cost of the renovation at the new site is estimated to be close to $600,000, but various contractors have offered sponsorships and discounts.

However, she will still have to fork out around $200,000.

She said: "I hope that many people will come and visit, so that the entrance fees can help cover the renovation cost."

The entrance fee has been kept at $5 over the years. When the museum moves to the new location, Singaporeans will pay $10 and non-Singaporeans $14. Children will pay $6.

Ms Tan added that she is also setting up a crowdfunding page.

She said: "This museum is unique in the world; it offers close interaction and education opportunities, as well as a different format in terms of how it is run."

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