2008-07-22 12:03:22 GMT 2008-07-22 20:03:22 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
BEIJING, July 22 (Xinhua) -- China's evening TV news program has received an unexpected spectator recently -- a tortoise who seems to be crazy about the anchorman's voice.
Whenever the pet tortoise raised by a citizen in south China's Chongqing Municipality hears CCTV's 7 p.m. news broadcast on the air, she comes out of her bathtub and absorbs herself in the television, Chongqing Evening News reported Monday.
"Every time she hears the anchorman's voice from the newscast, she would stop whatever she had been busy with and stretches her head from the shell immediately," her owner Liu Jie told the paper.
Liu bought the animal for 8 yuan (1.2 U.S. dollars) last year. She happened to discover the turtle's keen interest in watching the news when Liu's mother was watching TV with the tortoise beside her. She was then given the nickname "Dr. Turtle," according to the paper.
Dr. Turtle seems to care for the anchorwoman much less than the anchorman, and she shows little interest in soap operas or other programs," it said.
The paper said Liu bought another turtle as a playmate for Dr. Turtle in May and now the new member always watch news programs with her together.
Tu Jing, the reporter with the paper, told Xinhua she went to visit Dr. Turtle on Sunday. The turtles stop playing with each other and became quiet as the afternoon news started.
When Dr Turtle heard the voice of the anchorman, she slowly climbed up on to the shell of the other turtle to watch, Tu said.
A netizen called "fangjunbmw" said at zhidao.baidu.com, a popular online forum, his pet turtle also liked watching TV programs and they usually held his interest for about 10 minutes.
The paper also published a photo of the turtle clinging to the bathtub and facing the television. But a netizen on sohu.com suspected it was a set-up. "I don't believe turtles can climb so high and stand still without falling down," he wrote.
Officials in Chengdu Institute of Biology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Kunming Institute of Zoology, both told Xinhua in telephone interviews they had no research on such a phenomena and had no idea why turtles would like to watch TV.
"Turtles may have emotional feelings, just like human beings, or maybe she feels comfortable about the frequency of the anchorman's voice," said Chen Rongying, a Beijing college student.
Pet turtles also have other anecdotes. This March, Xinhua reported a turtle in the northeast Jilin Province with a fondness for smoking and a craving for tobacco. The animal could smoke a cigarette within four minutes.