Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Police Seek Quick Recovery of Nonprofit’s Beloved Sulcata Tortoise (Queens, NYC) – via Herp Digest

Wall Street Journal,  by Melanie Grace West, 7/18/17

Police are searching for suspects who made a fast getaway with one of Queens’ slowest residents.

The victim: Millennium, a 95-pound tortoise possibly born in 2000, though nobody really knows for sure.

He went missing from his enclosure at the Alley Pond Environmental Center sometime between Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, according to Carlos Martinez the center’s head of operations.

Officials of Alley Pond say that police have taken security footage from the center and will return Tuesday with a search dog. A spokesman for the New York Police Department said that footage from the surrounding area is also being reviewed.

A priceless, main attraction for the nonprofit educational center, Millennium has lived at the center for over a decade. He shares his summers with another African spurred tortoise named Mini Me in a large, sunny enclosure that abuts the perimeter of the center.

Center officials are convinced that Millennium didn’t get lost, or burrow out and wander off in search of fresh grass. Police are homing in on a one-foot by two-foot section of Millennium’s chain link enclosure that was cut open. Broken foliage and footprints lead from the opening of the fence to public property, according to Mr. Martinez, who noticed that Millennium was missing at 4 p.m. on Monday.

The real head-scratcher is how thieves physically boosted Millennium.

The slot in the chain-link isn’t large enough to slide Millennium out and the “gentle giant” doesn’t like to be tipped on his side, said Mr. Martinez. He figures at least two people were involved in the heist and they likely hoisted the tortoise above the 6-foot fence.

Still, said Mr. Martinez, “he’s not an animal you can just come and pick up and walk him half a block. He’s very awkward, he’s round…you would need a wagon, a hand-truck or a wheelbarrow.”

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