Saturday, May 12, 2012

Turtles returned

Two stories of turtles have cropped up in the weird news:

On Sunday, police in Davie, Florida, were looking for 2 teenagers described as foul-mouthed and threatening who were suspected of stealing 2 turtles from a reptile exhibit in Flamingo Gardens. Missing after the boys entered the enclosure without permission were an orange and brown Eastern box turtle named Zippy (1st image) and an unnamed Florida box turtle. The disappearance of Zippy was especially troublesome because his split belly shell was in the process of fusing back together and he was in danger of dying if not cared for properly. "His shell is very, very fragile. He's an animal that should not be picked up."said wildlife curator Laura Wyatt. To everyone's relief, both turtles were returned anonymously yesterday, no worse for wear. Wyatt thanked the media and told them that the animals would be welcomed home: "They will definitely be getting an absolutely wonderful dinner tonight. They will get a nice big salad with all kinds of fish and worms on it."

Last week, 85-year-old Holland Cokeley of South Strabane, Pennsylvania, was walking in the woods behind his house with his neighbor's dog. Zack found a turtle, which Cokeley found unremarkable - until he turned it over. There on the bottom of the shell were carved some initals and the year 1965 (2nd image, video here). "JC" stood for his son Jeff who had discovered the turtle as a 13-year-old boy.* "I picked it up, and I thought ‘Oh geez, this is Jeff’s turtle!.' It’s been here for 47 years, and it still has the same the same markings on it!” said Cokeley. He kept it for a couple days and then released it - as his son had 47 years ago - to live for possibly 50 more years.

*Jeff may not have known any better at the time, but addresses whether it's okay to carve your name or other information into a turtle or tortoise shell: "Humans can decide for themselves to get tattooed or pierced; turtles and tortoises don't have that choice. Their shells are made of living tissue - bone, skin, blood and nerves - and when you cut into them, it hurts. Cut into the shell and create an opening into the body cavity, and the turtle or tortoise may well die of infection. Since their shells are living tissue, they also should never be painted."
Some previous posts about turtles and tortoises:
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