After 18 years at the Chinese Garden, the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum has found a new home.
In January 2019, the museum will be all set to move to a slightly bigger space in ORTO leisure park in Yishun, where Bottle Tree Park used to be.
“Despite some “little hiccups” and delays, the construction of the new site is expected to be done in two weeks,” said the owner Connie Tan to Channel NewsAsia.
She further added, “When the construction is completed, the current location at Chinese Garden will close in preparation for the move to the north of Singapore.”
According to the article, the lease for the original location of the museum at Chinese Garden was supposed to expire in March 2018 for redevelopment, but Tan got a pardon from the government agencies after she wrote a long Facebook post to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong early this year appealing for help as the eviction date drew closer.
PM Lee replied to her post the next day and noted that the government agencies will be looking into this matter.
To her relief, the museum’s lease had been extended by the National Parks Board.
The museum, which hosts around 500 turtles, tortoises and terrapins, first started in 2001 by Tan and her late father to give children a chance to learn about the different species of turtles and tortoises.
However, Tan said that she had been looking for a new location for the last couple of years but found no success, as “the changes of use for the plots of land she was interested in were not approved”.
Then, upon the reply from PM Lee and follow-up with the authorities, she narrowed down her options to Sungei Tengah and ORTO, and she chose the latter about four months ago.
The new location will approximately be 10 per cent bigger than the Chinese Garden site. “It will feature enhanced amenities such as larger animal pens, which will mean more living space for the reptiles.”
“ORTO…is a haven for families. With the area complementing what we are, it will definitely be a wonderful place for everyone to enjoy themselves in,” she said.
However, this move was not an easy ride for her at all, and there are still challenges ahead for the museum.
“In terms of funding, I am very much in trouble now,” she said to the Straits Times.
The cost of the renovation at the new site is estimated to be close to S$600, 000, but several contractors have helped reduced her cost by installing lighting and electrical wiring at cost.
“I only had to pay for the material used,” she said.
However, Tan still has to bear the rental and construction costs, which has come up to more than S$200, 000. But she managed to raise S$30, 000 to date and she estimates that she needs another S$180, 000.
Currently the entrance fee at Chinese Garden is priced at S$5, but to help deal with the financial constraints, entrance fees at the new location will be raised to S$10 for Singaporeans S$14 for non-Singaporeans. Children and senior citizens will be charged S$6.
In addition to that, Tan has also appealed to the public for donations to help fund for the museum.
Many netizens are happy and relieved with the move since the museum will continue to operate.
Annette Elizabeth Phua commented that she is glad with the relocation to ORTO as the current place is “getting too cramp” for the reptiles.
Another Facebook user Oli To is also glad and happy that the tortoises “have a beautiful new home”.
With the lack of space at Chinese Garden, Mag Kan is hoping that the new location will have more space for natural enclosures as currently many of them are kept in “tanks filled with dirty water”.
However, some users are also questioning the move. Slowmo Turtle opines that the turtles should be left at their natural environments instead of being cramped in tanks. The user went on to say that “the current pond and garden space is pathetic and I don’t think it will get any better after the move.”