The Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) rarely grows to over four inches in diameter. Unfortunately for this small chelonian, that gives them a very high cute factor.
Being almost unbearably cute, these poor creatures have been decimated by the illegal pet trade. Thousands have been taken from their homes in the deserts of the Middle East and shoved into cramped shipping crates bound for distant shores.
It is possible that these wonderful creatures may already be doomed.
I refuse to accept that, however. As long as a few breeding pairs remain, there is always hope.
On May 21st, 2007, a zoo in Rome successfully bred a pair in captivity that had been rescued from a smuggler's suitcase in 2005. Other zoos have since followed suit.
The future of these creatures rests entirely in our hands. Let's hope that we are up to the challenge.