Family find pet turtle, missing for 30 years, hiding in attic

Photo: lifeonwhite/Depositphotos

As any pet owner knows, losing a beloved animal can be hard, but dealing with a missing pet can be especially difficult. There is no real closure. In the 1980s, a family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the Almeidas – experienced this with their pet turtle, Manuela. The reptile was the beloved pet of 8-year-old Lenita de Almeida at the time. During a home renovation, the reptile suddenly disappeared. The construction workers who built the house that day left the door open, so everyone thought the turtle had run away. Little did they know they would be reunited decades later.

When the tortoise first disappeared, the Almeida family looked around for her and asked neighbors if anyone had seen a red-footed tortoise roaming nearby. Unfortunately, no one has, which eventually leads them to think Manuela is gone forever. Thirty years later, in 2013, the head of the family, Leonel de Almeida, died. Throughout his life, he was handy and a little hoarder. He has a habit of picking up anything he thinks can be fixed and storing it at home. “If he finds an old TV, he thinks he can fix a new one with some parts, so he keeps accumulating stuff,” explains Lenita. He has accumulated so much that his collection of appliances and spare parts fills bedrooms and entire attics. After his death, family members who hadn’t been in the attic for years began clearing the items. What they don’t know is that while they’re sifting through decades of odds and ends, they’re looking for the surprise of a lifetime.

“I put garbage bags on the floor and my neighbors told me, ‘Are you going to throw the turtles away too?'” said Lionel’s son Leandro de Almeida. There, in the box of an old wooden speaker, was a familiar-looking red-footed turtle. “We were shocked!” admits Lenita’s daughter Nathalye de Almeida. “My mom came crying because she didn’t believe it. They found Manuela!”

The whole family is happy to see their tortoise alive and well, but puzzled by how she has been hiding in the attic for 30 years. At the time, professor and veterinarian Jefferson Pires described the turtle’s resilience, explaining that they could go without food for up to three years. Red-footed tortoises are omnivorous, and the family think Manuela may be living off termite larvae. Still, many have raised concerns about the possibility of this survival story — even though the turtles can go without food for long periods of time, they still need water and sunlight, and it’s unclear how Manuela got it. Some wondered if it was the same turtle, or if Almedas’ father had been caring for the pet without his family knowing.

Regardless, the Almeidas are happy to have Manuela in their lives again. Now, nearly 10 years after being found (40 years after disappearing), Manuela has been identified as male, identified by Manuel, and thrived in the care of the younger generation of the family. “He’s grown a lot,” Nathalye said. “I brought him in to live with me because I had a lot of affection for him.” On top of that, her mother still visits her childhood pet every week and is happy to see her daughter and The granddaughter was very close to this particular turtle. “She fed him, stroked him, kissed him,” Nathalye said. “He’s part of our family.”

While cleaning out the attic, the Almeida family were shocked to discover their mother’s childhood pet, a turtle named Manuela, believed to have disappeared 30 years ago.

The family believes the turtle may have been living off termite larvae in the cluttered room. Regardless of how it survived, they are excited to bring this special pet home.

HT: [The Dodo]

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