by Pete Davies
BBC News, Lima
Their release was met with cheers by hundreds of supporters Thousands of baby river turtles have been released into the Andean wilderness of Peru, so that they may eventually grow to become full fledged adults. Organisers said the baby turtles would return to Peru’s mountain waters to mate. The baby turtles are part of a six-year project which hopes to increase the population of the little reptiles which often gets known as “goodbye turtles”. Hundreds of Peruvians and zoo keepers gathered to witness the young reptiles being released. “Go be happy and go be healthy, let’s go! Get back out there!” shouted Peruvian and zoo staff. The baby turtles were released in the heart of the Arica Delta in the Andean highlands of Peru. The animals were raised at a rehabilitation centre on the banks of the rivers whoater. They have grown up in captivity amid all the noise of the animals they will eventually be released alongside. Far from being frightened or overwhelmed they stand up straight, and look forward to their release. Both male and female baby turtles are released and will return to the coast in the same way. Officials said they hoped the reptiles’ release would be the start of an ecologically sustainable management of the little creatures in this particular area of the Amazon. The release took place only a few feet from a nearby railway line that passes through the Delta. The train is often used as a shortcut to reach the coast. Richard De La Cruz, the head of care for non-releasable turtles for the Peruvian government, said it was important to establish a system where the turtles were released safely. He said: “Some animals are not suitable for rehabilitation because they are carriers of threats. Others are not good for release because they are hard to catch.”
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