(UPDATED 10/13) It was too good to be true. Gertie, an African Spurred Tortoise, was Jean Robinson's spoiled pet until the reptile wandered from its Mount Dora home over five years ago. Yesterday, there was hope she was finally found.
Mount Dora Animal Control located a 60-pound tortoise of the same breed on Wednesday after several sightings by residents during the week. African Spurred Tortoise, named for the big scales on their thighs, are the third-largest species of tortoises in the world.
On Monday, Mount Dora Police dispatch received a call about a large tortoise in the roadway around Clayton Street and Crane Avenue. Animal Control Officer Cindy Blevins responded to the area but was unable to locate the tortoise. When Gertie disappeared, she lived approximately two hundred yards from that same intersection.
On Tuesday, there was another sighting of the tortoise, also called a Sulcata, a block from the previous day. Blevins responded again, but was unable to locate the tortoise. Finally on Wednesday, Phil Barnard, a Mount Dora resident and owner of Magical Meat Boutique, spotted it when he was walking his dog along the area's railroad tracks. He and his wife, Kate, carried it in a blanket into a fenced area until Blevins could recover it. The tortoise is estimated to be 30 years-old and was reported to be in good health. African Spurred Tortoises can live 150 years in their native scrub environment at the edge of the Sahara. They can weigh up to 230 pounds.
The animal was transported to Care Foundation Wildlife Rehab Center in Apopka where Robinson was able to visit today and determine it was not her missing tortoise.