red footed tortoise
by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals.

File this under totally bizarre.

In 1982 a family in Brazil was having renovations done to their home. Unfortunately, Manuela, the Almeida’s pet red-footed tortoise, disappeared in all of the chaos. The family assumed that Manuela escaped through an open gate and went on to live in a nearby forest.

Jump to three decades later. Leonel, the father, unfortunately passed away. His children came back home to help clean out their father’s upstairs storage room. Filled with years of things he had collected, the storage room contained broken electronics, used furniture and other miscellaneous items.

After the son Leandro brought a box of old records down to the trash, a neighbor asked if they also wanted to throw away the tortoise that, according to Tree Hugger, was inside.

You can imagine their shock. Not only was their pet tortoise found, but she was still alive three decades later after living in a cluttered old storage room! It was indeed a happy reunion.

The family thinks that Manuela lived on termites. A veterinarian cited in the original article notes that tortoises have been known to go for long periods of time without eating. 30 years? No. But, perhaps if there were gaps in the termite activity, Manuela was able to cope. According to wiki, a tortoise like Manuela would normally eat fruit, grasses, flowers, fungi, carrion, and invertebrates. We hope that she’s now getting fed a much better diet after her ordeal.

Now, the tortoise lives with the Almeida family, and hopefully, they will never be parted again.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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