In what can only be described as a bizarre find, a family discovered that their pet turtle that disappeared nearly 30 years ago was alive and well and living in the family home all along.
Manuela, a red-footed tortoise, disappeared in 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The reptile belonged to the Almeida family who searched for her at length following her disappearance, but gave up and assumed that their pet slipped out a front door that had been left open.
Nearly three decades later, following the death of the family patriarch, the now-grown Almeida kids began to clean out the home only to discover Manuela the tortoise in a box next to a record player in a storage room.
“I put the box on the pavement for the rubbish men to collect, and a neighbor said, ‘You’re not throwing out the turtle as well are you?’” one of the kids recalled. “I looked and saw her. At that moment, I turned white, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Rio-based veterinarian, Jeferson Peres, said that red-footed tortoises have been known to survive without eating for 2-3 years in the wild, but 30 years is unprecedented. Dr. Peres suggested that Manuela likely survived by eating termites or other small insects, and by licking condensation.