Police are investigating the theft of eight leopard tortoises from the Shoalhaven Zoo.
The animals were stolen from their locked enclosure on Wednesday night.
The tortoises range in size, the largest is as big as a soccer ball with the smallest about the size of a softball.
Shoalhaven Zoo owner Nick Schilko said the animals were microchipped and had identification numbers engraved on their shells.
“Anyone who hears people talking about tortoises or turtles should call me,” he said.
“These animals just aren’t out there. They’re not something you would see in someone’s backyard.
“They are an exotic animal from South Africa. You can’t own these without a licence, and there are only two of us in NSW with a licence to exhibit them,” he said.
Mr Schilko hoped someone in the community would see or hear something and pass the information to him or the police.
In similar circumstances about two years ago a stolen monkey was returned to the zoo because someone overheard a conversation about the animal.
“We have a lot of people who like the zoo and I’m confident if they hear something about the tortoises they will get in touch,” Mr Schilko said.
“We have a guard dog and are in the process of extending our security systems, including CCTV cameras.”
Information about the stolen tortoises can be passed on to Nowra Police by phoning 4421 9699 or the Shoalhaven Zoo on 4421 3949.