This is the moment big-hearted Russian police officers are seen preparing food for 4,100 rare Central Asian turtles before the cute creatures gobble it up.
The turtles, which were reportedly being smuggled, were seized as part of an operation at the Orenburg Oblast on the Russian eastern border with Kazakhstan.
Video Credit: CEN/The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation
In the video released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the officers can be seen feeding the Central Asian turtles, also known as Russian turtles (Agrionemys horsfieldii) turtles courgettes, cabbage and other vegetables.
The video also shows a number of multi-coloured turtles of different sizes.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the turtles are worth 7.7 million RUB (95,900 GBP).
The creatures were seized when alleged smugglers transported the rare creatures under the guise that they were cabbage.
An unidentified police officer told local media: “The driver explained that he did not know about the animals, and was not familiar with the customer or the owner of the goods.”
Irina Volk, the official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs told reporters: “Central Asian turtles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973, and are classified as strategically important resources by a Russian decree, so it took time to resolve the issue of repatriating them.”
During the time it took to sort the issue, officers from the regional department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs placed the turtles in an empty building at the Orenburg Pedagogical University.
There, they took care of the turtles together with teachers and students for a month and a half.
The Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources and the Committee on Forestry and Wildlife at the Ministry of Agriculture in Kazakhstan agreed to return turtles to their natural habitat.
The 4,100 turtles have now been returned and released into the wild in Kazakhstan.
A criminal investigation has been opened under the article “smuggling of especially valuable wild animals and aquatic biological resources” and is still ongoing. No arrests have been reported.
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Story By: Anna Casap, Sub-Editor: Alex Cope, Agency: Central European News
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