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Turtle with 'horns' on eyelids awaits spike in visitors to central Japan zoo

A Chinese pond turtle with a pair of "horns" on its eyelids is seen in Kawazu, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Mainichi/Yoshihiro Yanagawa)

KAWAZU, Shizuoka -- A Chinese pond turtle with rare horn-like projections on both of its eyelids has been on display at a zoo in this central Japan city, with the zoo director suspecting it to be the world's only one of its kind.

The facility called iZoo, which features many reptile and amphibian species, began the display of the unusual animal earlier this month. The turtle was donated to the zoo on July 1 by a man who captured it in the city of Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture in the summer of 2019 and had since kept it at home in the same city. The man made the donation wanting many people to see the turtle and the cause of its mysterious horns to be investigated.

The female turtle's shell measures 16 centimeters long and its body weighs 670 grams. An X-ray analysis of the reptile, which is estimated to be around 10 years old, found that its "horns" are believed to have developed due to skin cuticle mutation.

"We've been keeping reptiles for many years, but I'd never seen or heard of a turtle with horns. I believe this is the world's only one of its kind," commented Tsuyoshi Shirawa, director of the zoo.

The facility will further analyze the strange creature from genetic and pathologic perspectives. The turtle is being kept along with a male in hopes of possible breeding.

(Japanese original by Yoshihiro Yanagawa, Ito Local Bureau)

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