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Photo: Customs Office, Potsdam

Tortoises disguised as buns in smuggling fail

Customs officers stopped a man trying to smuggle three tortoises into Europe by making them look like chocolate desserts.

A man has been stopped by customs officers after trying to smuggle three tortoises into Europe by disguising them as sweet treats, The Local reports.

The 69 year old had arrived at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport from Cairo, according to the customs officers, trying to leave the security zone with nothing to declare but looking suspicious.

Checking his luggage, they found a suspicious package that appeared to be for baked goods but with an odd odour.

When the officers asked what the contents were, he said it was chocolate. But on opening it up they found three Moroccan tortoises inside, still alive after the journey.

Protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention, which has been in force since 1975, the animals were confiscated and given to the border veterinarian for their care.

Further investigations are being carried out by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the customs officers said.

Ape skull
Smuggling animals, alive or dead, into Europe from more exotic continents is not uncommon. In 2016, for example, customs officers at Munich International Airport found an uncleaned, stinking ape skull in a suitcase belonging to a man arriving from Thailand.

Two years before that, a Mexican man was arrested at Frankfurt after trying to carry, in a single suitcase, 55 tortoises, 30 arboreal alligator lizards, four vipers and an iguana.

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