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CA Press: Stolen tortoises returned

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Posted by: W von Papineu at Tue Jan 25 09:47:08 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papineu ]  
   

VENTURA COUNTY STAR (Camarillo, California) 17 January 11 Stolen tortoises returned to owner - Witness sees teens lugging 2 reptiles (Stephanie Hoops)
Less than two days after being taken from their Ventura home, two giant tortoises are once again cozy in their heated houses in a yard that’s now protected by surveillance cameras.
The tortoises were returned to owner Stephanie Pappas over the weekend by an alert motorist who saw them being carried by two teenagers.
Pappas, a biologist involved in turtle rescue and rehabilitation, said her African spurred tortoises, Dumpling and Africa, were missing Thursday when she got home from work. One of the tortoises’ houses was off its block, appearing to Pappas as a sign of a struggle.
She searched her neighborhood, filed a report with the Ventura Police Department, put up fliers and posted a classified ad on Craigslist. She worried her pets wouldn’t survive without enough heat.
At the same time, she held out hope that someone saw something, finding it hard to believe two giant tortoises could be moved without anyone’s notice. After all, Dumpling weighs 60 pounds and Africa 80.
It turns out she was right.
Just after midnight Thursday, Matt Corse, who works as a personal banker for Wells Fargo and lives a few streets away, was driving through the neighborhood when he noticed something odd: two teenage boys wearing black hooded sweatshirts struggling to carry two tortoises down a bike path.
Corse turned around and approached. He made eye contact with the boys and they quickly set the tortoises down and took off running. Corse lifted the two reptiles into the back of his truck and took them home. It was cold that night and having had reptiles, he knew to keep them warm, so he put them in pet igloos in his garage.
By Friday, the tortoises were in his yard eating grape vines, flowers and grass, and Corse was telling his friends and family the strange situation he was involved in.
Meanwhile, Pappas was telling the story to a reporter at The Star for an article that appeared Saturday, an article Corse’s brother saw.
Corse was at work when his brother called to tell him, but he took a moment to give Pappas a call.
“When I first told her she just lost it,” he said. “She started yelling and screaming and she was asking questions. I could tell she was very emotional about it, and I just let her know they were safe and that I had them.”
At 8 p.m. Saturday, the tortoises were reunited with two others Pappas has in her yard on Santa Fe Avenue.
“They were definitely happy to crawl back into their heated houses and see their friends,” Pappas said. “The other two clearly knew they were gone. The minute they got back in everybody was walking and cruising around each other.”
Pappas gave Corse a tour of her property and a big hug, saying how thankful she is that he made that U-turn and took action upon seeing something out of the ordinary.
“It’s a pretty weird story but we’re really grateful we got them back,” she said.
The tortoises were a little scratched up, and Pappas and her veterinarian will be monitoring them over the next week to make sure they don’t have internal damage.
Stolen tortoises returned to owner


   

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