Staff at a Galapagos Islands airport discovered 185 baby tortoises wrapped in plastic in a suitcase Sunday morning.© Getty Images 185 baby tortoises found inside suitcase at Galapagos Islands airport
Officials at the Seymour Airport, located on the island of Baltra, just 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, called the incident an attempt to smuggle the reptiles off the island, according to USA Today.
Airport X-ray machines detected the tortoises when they sensed irregularities in a red suitcase. Staff opened the suitcase to discover 185 of the baby reptiles, including 10 that had died, the news outlet reported.
Ecuador’s environment minister, Marcelo Mata shared a tweet Sunday saying the incident was a crime “against wildlife and the natural heritage of Ecuadorians,” USA Today reported.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1376244971196592128&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fthehill.com%2Fhomenews%2Fnews%2F545523-185-baby-tortoises-found-inside-suitcase-at-galapagos-islands-airport&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=550px
He said that the surviving tortoises have since been taken for veterinary reviews.
As of Monday, no charges were filed in connection to the incident, though Ecuador’s national police and environmental police are conducting investigations. The owners of the suitcase were also reportedly held for questioning, USA Today reported.
The smuggling of any animal from the islands can result in up to three years in prison, the news outlet noted.