New York City can breathe a sigh of relief. Millenium, a longtime resident of the Queen's Alley Pond environmental center, has been found. According to AM New York, he was kidnapped around July 16.
This matters, because Millenium is a tortoise, and tortoises are great.
I know this, because I have a tortoise.
Well, sort of. My tortoise, Winston (a Hermann's tortoise), actually lives with my mother in London. Our family has had him for about 21 years.
Winston has had a good life with abundant food and attentive care. He is especially fond of strawberries, salad, and tomatoes.
A good life. Except, that is, for one dark day about 10 years ago when foxes killed his brother, Armstrong. Incidentally, this is one reason why, even though the hunters outfits are idiotic, I support fox hunting.
Regardless, Winston exemplifies why tortoises are great animals. He is quick, energetic, and for an animal with a brain the size of a raisin, surprisingly intelligent.
There are two key ways that Winston shows off his intelligence.
First, he will judge whether he can throw himself off an elevated position without being injured. This is a frequent circumstance at my mother's house in London. She has a small garden dominated by a large, elevated plant box full of dense foliage. Winston frequently crashes through the bushes and sticks his head out over the edge of the box. Yet he knows not to jump. In other situations, however, Winston will throw himself off ledges if he knows his shell can take the impact.
Second, Winston is an expert escape artist. When I was growing up, we had a large tortoise enclosure fenced by wooden plates. From the amateur eye, it appeared tortoise-escape proof -- It was not. On many occasions, Winston would use his nails to climb almost vertically up and out of his enclosure. He would also find weak points and push his weight against them to make a breach.
The problem with escaping tortoises is that they are, contrary to their reputation, extremely quick. If you lose a tortoise you will spend many hours looking for them.
Finally, tortoises are not, as some might assume, boring stick insect-type reptiles. Once they associate their owners with food, they will respond to a particular voice and stick out their heads to be stroked. Winston, unsurprisingly, is especially fond of my mother. Nor are tortoises, once aware that humans are not a threat, anti-social. They will walk around amidst a party of humans.
Anyway, here are some photos of Winston.
Now go buy a tortoise.