Woman charged over theft of tortoise from Perth Zoo

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson with Perth Zoo veterinary nurse supervisor Peta Moore and the two returned tortoises. Photo: Lauren Pilat.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson with Perth Zoo veterinary nurse supervisor Peta Moore and the two returned tortoises. Photo: Lauren Pilat.

A SECOND critically endangered tortoise that was allegedly stolen seven years ago has been returned to Perth Zoo, just five days after the missing baby meerkat was found.

Warwick Police last night recovered the second Madagascan radiated tortoise, that was allegedly taken from the zoo in 2011, from a home in Greenwood

A 35-year-old woman was charged with stealing and trespass and is due to appear in court to face the charges at a later date.

The discovery comes after another tortoise was recovered by police earlier this month at a home in Girrawheen that was also reported missing by Perth Zoo in 2011.

In an unrelated incident, a baby meerkat was allegedly taken from its enclosure last week.

Since then, a man and a woman have been charged with the meerkat’s theft and are due to appear in court at a later date.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said since the baby meerkat went missing security had been increased at the zoo and enclosure structures had been reassessed.

Mr Dawson said along with WA Police they had been looking at increasing security cameras and continuing to strengthen security to deter copycat behaviour.

“A couple of people are a couple of bad eggs in the community who have done the wrong thing and it’s unfortunate because they spoil it for the rest of the community,” he said.

“When someone steals an animal from the zoo they’re putting that animal’s life at risk.

“What is paramount is the safety and security of the animals.

“I have asked the zoo over the last couple of days to look more seriously at the penalties that are in place … the Perth Zoo by-laws and regulations that govern the zoo are old.”

Mr Dawson said security measures and changes to enclosures would continue to be assessed to ensure similar occurrences wouldn’t happen again.

“Millions of West Australians do the right thing but what we’ve seen over the past week when someone did the wrong thing and what we’ve seen seven years ago was another person did the wrong thing,” he said.

“We’ve got to learn from those incidents and make sure the animals are safe so people can come here and enjoy it.”

He refuted that any bag checks would be enforced upon entry and exit from the zoo.