S’pore Turtle & Tortoise Museum will relocate to bigger space in Yishun Orto leisure park

The move is expected to take place in January.

Matthias Ang | December 26, 2018, 06:41 PM

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum was set to get kicked out of the Chinese Gardens at the end of March 2018.

The museum's owner, Connie Tan, then made a last-ditch attempt at an appeal addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against the impending eviction before it happened.

It was an appeal to which Lee gave a response.

This resulted in an extension of the lease, which gave Tan more time to find a new space.

And it appears the museum has managed to do so as of Dec. 26.

According to The Straits Times, the museum will be relocating to leisure park Orto in Yishun come January 2019.

This new premises is about 10 percent bigger than the one in the Chinese Gardens, where it is still operating out from.

Additional funding still required

However, Tan and the museum are not fully out of the woods yet.

ST reported that Tan said she is still in need of around S$200,000 to help cover the costs of renovation at the new space, which is estimated to reach around S$600,000.

In a Facebook post put up by the museum's page on Dec. 16, the museum stated that its entrance fees at Orto would be increased from the current rate of S$5 to help cope with the increased costs of the rental and renovation.

It also made a call for donations to help with the museum's moving costs.

ST added that Tan would also be setting up a crowdfunding page.

7 years quest for new premises

The successful search to secure a new location is significant as the need for a new space stretched as far back as 2011.

Here's a summary of how things have transpired:

  • Tan has for the past 16-plus years situated her collection of turtles and tortoises, a global novelty that she started with her late father, at Chinese Garden.
  • She was first told about plans for redevelopment for the area her museum occupied in 2011, and that her museum would be affected by these plans and would have to move.
  • Her search for a new location for her turtles and tortoises yielded little fruit, and the deadline given to her to move out of the premises was set for March 30, 2016.
  • This was then extended to March 31, 2018.
  • In May 2016, the National Parks Board (NParks) had also facilitated a visit to Kusu Island to see if it would be a suitable replacement location for the museum — Tan said no, though.
  • Saying she was at her wits’ end in March 2018, Tan wrote a Facebook post to PM Lee, who responded the next day to assure her that the various government bodies were looking into her situation.
  • Tan was initially set a last day on March 18, 2018, after which she would close her museum for good.
  • However, almost two weeks after her Facebook post to PM Lee, a joint statement by NParks, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Singapore Land Authority was issued, stating that they were studying the redevelopment project timeline to see if they could give Tan more time to find a good place.

In the meantime, the museum's Facebook page has confirmed that it would still be open at its current premises, at least until the end of the month.

Top image collage from The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum of Singapore Facebook