'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Spurs Boom in Turtle Sales, Illegal Smuggling

"Kids, with their imagination, are thinking if they got four of them maybe they'll turn into the ninja turtles"

Cowabunga, indeed.

A turtle expert says that sales of pet turtles have spiked by 20 percent in Canada since the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie hit theaters last month.

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"Kids, with their imagination, are thinking if they got four of them maybe they'll turn into the ninja turtles," Stephen Mark, a former employee with the Ontario parks department, told CBC News, adding that the same spike in demand occurred when the original Turtles movie was released in 1990.

The only problem? An import permit is required for turtles and tortoises brought into Canada from other countries, and Mark thinks that the high demand for the creatures is leading to more illegal smuggling.

"No one thinks there's anything wrong with having a pet turtle," he said. "So they go to a pet shop and they buy a turtle. Nine times out of 10, that turtle was illegally acquired somewhere along the line."

He said that one species that sells for $25 in the U.S. goes for about $600 up north.

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Last week, a man was charged in both the U.S. and Canada after he was found with 51 turtles strapped to his body trying to enter through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. He was denied bail.

Jonathan Liebesman's movie, starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett, has raked in $342.1 million at the worldwide box office since its Aug. 8 release, according to Box Office Mojo. A sequel has been set for a June 3, 2016, bow.

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