Staff from the Shibukawa Zoological Park in Japan were left in shock after one of their tortoises went missing. Although it wasn't the first time the animal had the guts and craftiness to escape from the zoo, it just might be the last.
Image Credit: AFP/Shibukawa Zoological Park
Zoo employees reportedly searched far and wide, perusing nearby roads and mountains and asking locals if they'd seen the animal. Unfortunately, the staff had no luck.
Two weeks went by, and the creature’s whereabouts remained a mystery. With no leads, the zoo turned to the public for assistance.
A statement released by the zoo revealed that the tortoise was a 35-year-old female that measured approximately 1 meter long and weighed about 120 pounds; she was a popular attraction among children visitors and a staple of the zoo family.
Eventually, desperate to get their tortoise back, the zoo staff offered a 500,000-Yen reward for the tortoise’s safe return, and that’s when their luck suddenly changed.
Citing TIME, a local bounty hunter found the animal hiding in some shrubs about 140 meters away from the zoo on Wednesday, which wasn't too far. As you can probably imagine, the staff were relieved when they heard the animal was spotted and safe.
“We were so relieved that she came back safely as she is so popular among children,” said Yoshimi Yamane, a zoo staff member. “We will try to take new measures so that this won't happen again.”
The zoo initially allowed the tortoise to roam freely around its grounds, which made her escape efforts easier. What they will do to prevent more escape attempts going forward remains unclear, but something tells us the tortoise may not like it.
The most likely of possible solutions is confining the tortoise to an enclosure to make future escape efforts futile, but we'll have to wait and see to find out what happens for sure.