Many Airport Authority employees are animal lovers. But here is a story of a very special relationship between one employee and an African Spurred Tortoise (geochelone sulcata).
Bentley, a geochelone sulcata, and small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, came home with the employee’s daughter for a few weeks stay. No one realized that she (yes- “she” – Bentley as it turned out, was a female tortoise) was home to stay. The daughter found a job and new digs, but Bentley stayed on – basking under the heat lamp in her critter cage or munching such delectables as: dandelion greens, kale, strawberries, and timothy hay (…timothy hay?).
Evenings were spent perched on a lap or shoulder as the family watched TV, and occasionally rubbing her tortoise head against someone’s cheek. She waited patiently for the family to come home and followed them around the kitchen as they made dinner, always on the lookout for a stray piece of avocado, or anything green for that matter. Bentley showed a special zeal for fresh guacamole.
Time passed and Bentley grew. No longer able to sit on a shoulder, she contented herself with following the family around until bedtime, when she was tucked away for the night. A custom cage was built for her in the back yard, with a heat lamp and an open area for sunbathing on those warmer San Diego days. Bentley was still carried into the house each night, but she was getting too big even for this. She was growing fast and now weighed close to 35 pounds. Longer-term plans had to be made.
The search was on for the right home (with visitation rights, of course). After weeks of searching, a family was found in North County that already had other tortoises and lots of land for rambling. It was time for Bentley to visit and be introduced to an older female tortoise. The two tortoises hit it off and now occupy a sunny enclosure with lots of trees and water. Bentley has plenty of room to roam, forage and keep growing (which she will surely do). And she has a new companion with whom to spend her days.
And the employee (who remains fondly anonymous) … well, it will never be the same without this unique animal around the house, but she’s not far away for an occasional visit from that Airport Authority employee who became so fond of her.
Do you know and love any other strange critters out there? Can we talk? Tell us about them in the comments section below …
More about tortoises like Bentley:
The Sulcata is the third largest species of tortoise in the world after the Galapagos tortoise, and Aldabra Giant Tortoise; and the largest of the mainland tortoises. Adults are usually 24 to 36 inch long (60-90 cm) and can weigh 100-200 pounds (45 – 91 kg). They grow from hatchling size (2-3 inches) very quickly, reaching 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) within the first few years of their lives. The lifespan of an African Spurred Tortoise is about 30-50 years.