Wildlife officials seek homes for tortoises

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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department is looking for willing tortoise adopters.

"This iconic desert species has become overpopulated in captivity and there aren't enough homes for them," said Cristina Jones, the coordinator for AZGFD's turtle program.

Jones said desert tortoises can't be released back into the wild once captive, because captive animals can pass on upper respiratory diseases to wild populations. Likewise, it's illegal to take a tortoise from the wild.

If you have a yard big enough for a dog, but have an allergy or no time to take care of one, a tortoise could be for you. Your yard would also need a burrow for the reptile to get out of harsh Arizona summers.

They are only available for adoption in Phoenix, Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu, Tucson and Yuma areas. Tortoises can't survive in the cold winters of the north and southeast.

If you're interested, click here for more information about adoption.