Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Turtles in the weird news

I recently blogged about the plight of the wild turtles in the oil-ravaged Gulf of Mexico, but lately there have been a number of turtle stories in the weird news. So here is a more lighthearted post about pets - although some of them have issues of their own. The x-ray of Polly the African pancake tortoise (1st image) reveals that she has an egg-sized bladder stone, which would have killed her if vets at Bristol Zoo had not removed it in a 2008 operation. Lucy (3rd image), an African Spur Thigh tortoise living in Wellington Gardens in Brentwood, New Hampshire, escaped and apparently survived 4 winters buried deep beneath the ground - only to resurface a 1/2 mile from home. Timmy (4th image), a Hermann's tortoise living at a sanctuary in Cornwall, England, has never had much luck with the ladies, but is now receiving some comfort from a stand-in named Tanya. A baby red ear slider named Neytiri carried on board an Airtran jet in Atlanta was the reason the plane returned to the gate and its owner - a 10-year-old girl - and her sisters were ejected from the flight.

An archaeological dig at a castle in Staffordshire has just proven that the keeping of turtles as pets in Britain dates back to at least the late 19th c. with the discovery of a 130-year-old leg bone in with the remains of dogs and cats. In Paris around 1839, a type of gentleman described as a flâneur strolled the arcades and found that doing so with a turtle on a leash was not only fashionable, it enforced a leisurely pace at which to observe the urban sights. A man in New York's East Village takes his African Spurred tortoise on regular walks, but finds he does not need a leash. When "Speed Bump" (2nd image) is on the street, he draws a crowd, and according to owner Robert Shapiro, it's "the only time in New York City that everybody talks to each other..."

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