Turtle museum gets lease extension

Ms Connie Tan looking on as an African spurred tortoise roams at the Live Turtle and Tortoise museum located in the Chinese Garden. She started the museum with her late father in 2001 to give children a chance to learn about the different species of
Ms Connie Tan looking on as an African spurred tortoise roams at the Live Turtle and Tortoise museum located in the Chinese Garden. She started the museum with her late father in 2001 to give children a chance to learn about the different species of turtles and tortoises.ST FILE PHOTO

But it has to eventually move out of Chinese Garden to make way for area's development

The lease for the Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum, which is due to be evicted from the Chinese Garden at the end of this month, will be extended, owner Connie Tan has told The Sunday Times.

She said in a post on the museum's Facebook page that the National Parks Board (NParks) had agreed to extend the lease.

"It was a very informal chat," Ms Tan said yesterday. "NParks is willing to extend the lease."

This comes after the Singapore Land Authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority and NParks said in a joint statement on March 7 that NParks was "further studying the project timeline" to see if Ms Tan "can be given more time to firm up her plans".

The extension will give her more time to relocate the museum. She will have to move out of the Chinese Garden site, where the museum has been for more than 16 years. The museum is making way for the development of the Jurong Lake District.

Details on how long the lease will be extended for and where the museum will move to have not been finalised yet.

DAY AT THE RACES?

I've been wanting to do this - every Saturday, to get children to 'adopt' a turtle and do a turtle race for the day.

MS CONNIE TAN, owner of the Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum, on one of her pet wishes.

Ms Tan wrote a post on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Facebook page on March 4, appealing for help as she was at her wits' end.

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

Ms Tan told ST that since PM Lee's reply, she had received "an onslaught of offers of help".

Initially, she had planned on putting up the animals at her events management office in Bukit Merah as a stopgap measure.

"Now that I have some choices (regarding where to move to), I am trying to very quickly tie things up," said Ms Tan.

"Because PM Lee replied to me, there are people coming forward, but I need time to apply for and settle the permit and talk to them."

Ms Tan, 47, started the museum with her late father in 2001 to give children a chance to learn about the different species of turtles and tortoises. She has given up her events management business to find a solution to the housing of the turtles.

Ms Tan said people have donated more than US$13,000 (S$17,000) towards her GoGetFunding fund-raising campaign. She plans to use the money to build a new home for the animals at the new site.

"We have a rough layout. I want to build a pen, build something different. I'm meeting the contractors next week," said Ms Tan.

The entrance fees to the museum, which made it into the Guinness World Record books for the largest collection of tortoise and turtle items, have remained at $5 per adult since its inception.

Children aged six and below, as well as seniors above the age of 62, pay $3 to enter. This was why the museum, which houses about 500 tortoises, turtles and terrapins, sometimes went into the red, she said.

With the new move, she plans to revamp the museum and include an area where visitors can watch videos about the museum's history.

Currently, visitors can feed vegetables to the herbivorous turtles and tortoises. She plans to feature live feeding shows of the carnivorous species - such as alligator snapping turtles - at the new site.

"Also, I've been wanting to do this - every Saturday, to get children to 'adopt' a turtle and do a turtle race for the day," said Ms Tan.

While she has been criticised for her US$2 million funding appeal, she said she had set a high target as she was unsure about the costs of construction and the move to the new premises.

She said she hopes to list a breakdown of the items that she will use the money for and put it up on the webpage by next week. "I've been trying to answer as many people as possible," she said. "It's huge support that I'm getting from people and netizens, it's fantastic."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 18, 2018, with the headline 'Turtle museum gets lease extension'. Print Edition | Subscribe