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Australia zoo says extremely rare tortoise stolen

This undated file photo provided by the Perth Zoo, in western Australia, shows a critically endangered radiated tortoise.

Perth Zoo

A zoo in western Australia has launched an appeal for the return of a rare tortoise it believes was stolen, and which it fears could end up in the illegal wildlife trade.

According to the BBC, the Perth Zoo first noticed its young radiated tortoise missing from its enclosure on Tuesday. The species, native to the island nation of Madagascar, is classed as critically endangered due to poaching and the destruction of its natural habitat.

A zoo spokesperson told the BBC they were reviewing surveillance camera video for clues, but that there were no signs of a break-in.

"We hold grave concerns for the tortoise. Due to their stunning shells, these tortoise are heavily impacted by the illegal wildlife trade and regularly trafficked and sold on the black market," Maria Finnigan, the zoo's director of life sciences, told the BBC.

"We are appealing to anyone who has any information to come forward. Our main concern is for the welfare of this animal, not prosecution," Finnigan said.

The tortoise -- still too young to determine the sex of at 10-years-old -- is only about five inches wide.

According to the BBC, two animals of the same species disappeared from the same enclosure at Perth Zoo in 2011.