Fred, a centenarian tortoise living in the English village of Blackfield, Hampshire, was reunited with his owners this weekend after disappearing seven days prior. According to Metro News, he was found 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) away from home about 168 hours after his absence was first noted – making his getaway speed a leisurely 0.006 miles per hour.
The Great Escape this was not.
Apparently, the cheeky runaway was discovered ambling down a country road when a passing motorist nearly ran him over. And because Fred’s devoted adopted parents, Terry and Sue Phelps, had placed an article in the local newspaper, the kind stranger was unfazed by the sight and knew what to do immediately.
“I can’t thank Fred’s saviour enough. I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since he went missing,” Mr Phelps, aged 86, told the Mirror.
“Normally I open the back door in the morning and he's there – he'd shout out for food if he could – but he wasn't there on Tuesday the other week and simply didn't appear.”
Concerned that Fred may have been stolen, the elderly couple placed the aforementioned newspaper listing and enlisted friends and neighbors to help them search the surrounding area. Together, the rescue group put notes into nearby letterboxes and asked staff at the community recreation center to keep an eye out.
A few of the more tech-savvy members announced the Phelps’ plight and asked for assistance on social media.
"Fred is a bit of a character. We've had him for more than 30 years, some friends of ours also had him for more than 30 years before that, and someone else had him before them. We think he must be at least in his early 90s and quite possibly 100 or more.”
In another recent tortoise-on-the-run story (this actually happens frequently enough to be a thing), a middle-aged African spurred tortoise found on the streets of Southern California is in recovery after undergoing a $4,000 procedure to fix his (or her) shell.
In April, a good Samaritan rushed the creature to San Diego County Animal Services after witnessing it being chased by a dog until it fell from a 3-meter (10-foot) wall, cracking its shell into three pieces. A reptile specialist veterinarian was called in, and thanks to a community care fund, the unclaimed tortoise’s costly repair – which consisted of screws, zip ties, and denture paste – was fully covered.