The Villa Borghese lake, popularly known as the laghetto, will be out of bounds for the next six months after water was discovered leaking into surrounding areas.
Once the lake is drained, engineers will begin a €1.5 million project to seal its walls to prevent future leaks. The works will be bad news for those who enjoy boating on the picturesque lake but the drainage will have more serious repercussions for the animals who call the lake their home.
Facing eviction are about 100 turtles, 70 carp, 60 ducks and dozens of other water birds including swans and geese. These animals and birds will have to be relocated during the works however their destination is not yet known.
In recent days the city requested assistance from the nearby Bioparco whose scientific director Fulvio Fraticelli says the animals would need to be tested for diseases such as salmonella, as well as being placed in quarantine, before the zoo could even consider taking them in.
As an alternative Fraticelli has suggested moving the birds into an 80-sqm pen covered with a 1.5-m high net, while the turtles could be housed in a similar fashion nearby.