Late last week, sheriffs were dispatched to a wildlife rehabilitation center in Forsyth County, Georgia after one of the facility's animal residents had managed a bold break-out. For days, local law enforcement and volunteers were led in pursuit of the intrepid runaway. But as it turns out, he was never far from home (and in more ways than one, I suppose).
No barriers, it seems, could prevent Tortellini, the center's 70-year-old African spurred tortoise, from dusting off his shell and moving on. Chalk it up to youthful indiscretion.
Somehow, the lumbering 155-pound tortoise had managed to breach the rehab center's gate, escape across a long field, and even cross a riverbed in a slow-motion bid for freedom. By the time his keepers noticed Tortellini escaped, he was clear out of sight.
Three days later, however, Tortellini's jig was up.
"There was a big search and rescue group," says Elexis Hays, owner of the wildlife rehab center. "There were a lot of feet on the ground. There were a lot of people looking. He was viral on Facebook, the sheriff's office, animal control. We had signs up. Every which way he could be found, he was found."
All told, the adventuresome tortoise had made it just a mile-and-a-half from the wildlife center over the course of his three-day sojourn -- traveling at a rate of 0.014 mph. But while Tortellini's daring dash is hardly one for the record books, to be fair it should be noted that the facility's resident hare never left the starting gate.
Here's a news report of Tortellini's great escape: