It’s time for a shell-ebration.
A UK man has been reunited with his beloved tortoise who went missing a year ago – after he was found in a field just over a half-mile away, the Telegraph reported.
The 14-year-old reptilian slowpoke named Maxi scaled a 12-inch-high fence in Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire, in August 2020 and embarked on his epic journey — at an average speed of 0.00007 mph.
A year into his escapade, Susie Thomas and her neighbor Linda Rogers stumbled upon the wayward creature as they walked a dog in the middle of a field about 0.6 miles from his home.
“It was very lucky that Maxi was on the path we were walking on, as the field isn’t a right of way — we were walking the farm owner’s dog so we had permission to walk there, so otherwise he wouldn’t have been found,” said Thomas, 24, according to the news outlet.
“Obviously, with the harvest coming up, it could’ve been a very sad story if we hadn’t found him,” she added, referring to the possibility that a tractor could have crushed Maxi.
The two women took the long-lost tortoise home, where they gave him food and water before scouring local Facebook groups to try to find out if anyone was missing him.
“We made sure to ask the possible owners to describe their tortoise and send pictures first so we could make sure we would definitely give it to the rightful owner,” said Thomas, a behavioral economics student.
“We were wary that people might just claim it to be theirs,” she added.
Three days later, they found Maxi’s owner, Ruaidhri Jukes, who identified his pet by a distinctive chip on his shell near the head.
“He would normally spend all day in his enclosure over the summer and I don’t know how he escaped — he just was not in there anymore,” Jukes, 23, said, according to the Telegraph.
“Maybe he climbed out but I don’t know,” added the elated man, who had given up hope of ever seeing Maxi again.
“He has escaped before and been missing for a similar length of time. So, at first, I was confident that he might come back,” he said. “But just before he came back, I had basically given up hope but he got found and came back home. It’s crazy.”
Jukes added: “He’s back and he’s safe and he needs a little bit of TLC — but he will be OK.”