We’ve seen lots of strange things in this city, cure especially along Westheimer and Richmond. But a recent hitchhiker seen on San Filipe takes the cake. The call to the Wildlife Center went something like this:

We found this tortoise on San Filipe, pill can we bring it to you? 

Is it a turtle or a tortoise? (Volunteer is thinking, some of Texas’ tortoises are endangered – it’s probably just a Red-eared Slider)

It’s a tortoise.

Is it a baby?

No

Is it injured?

No

Well, we only care for sick, injured of orphaned wild animals here at the Wildlife Center, just move it to a nearby safe spot and let it go.

There isn’t a safe spot – this is SAN FILIPE! Like, six lanes plus a suicide lane!

OK, bring it to the Wildlife Center and we’ll see what can be done. Just put it in your car and bring it to us.

You don’t understand, I have someone sitting on it to keep it from walking away and it is STILL walking away! I don’t think I can lift it. (Volunteer feels like they’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone)

Can you and the person that is sitting on it lift it?

It’s pretty big.  Well, maybe if I fold down the seat it will fit. (Cue the theme music for the Twilight Zone)

TortoiseA couple of volunteers are asked to help bring the tortoise inside. It is so big that if placed in a normal sized bathtub it would take up two-thirds of the length and could not turn around. And this bad boy weighs about 45 pounds! One volunteer takes a look and says “Oh that’s an African Spurred Thigh Tortoise, it is native to the Sahara desert, it is the largest species that doesn’t live on an island and can live to be 50 – 60 years old.” SAY WHAT?? And how did you know all that?

What will become of it? Hopefully the owners will come forward to claim it. There are very distinctive markings that the attached picture doesn’t reveal. All escapes can’t be prevented, the yard guy left the gate open or the animal became big enough or motivated enough to go over or under the fence.

P.S. The boy’s name is Sherman (sorry, couldn’t tell you the sex as it was part of the proof of ownership) and he has been successfully reunited with his family. Someone outside the family left the gate open.