AN illegal Mediterranean tortoise hatchery at an Elche finca has been shut down by the Guardia Civil.

27 animals have been removed by the Guardia’s environment unit, Seprona.

The tortoises are being cared for at regional government facilities.

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The unlicensed breeder faces a prison sentence of up to two years and disqualification from animal related activities of up to four years.

A routine Guardia inspection of a finca in Partida Algoda de Elche uncovered a fenced-off area with several dozen tortoises.

Officers went inside a wooden shed in the enclosed space and discovered the facilities were used as a breeding area for the species.

The owner had no documentation to own, breed, or sell the Mediterranean tortoise.

It’s popularity as a pet, despite it being a protected species, means illegal trading is common.

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