A 200-pound tortoise that wandered out of his backyard pen in Jurupa Valley and ventured to the gates of an elementary school, where he was captured by an animal control officer, returned home Wednesday.

“Charlie,” a 17-year-old Sulcata tortoise, escaped from his owner’s yard by digging underneath a chain-link fence sometime Tuesday, according to Riverside County Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh.

Welsh said the huge slow-moving terrapin headed down Jurupa Road, managing to steer clear of traffic for nearly a mile, until reaching the Van Buren Elementary School campus, near Jurupa and Cedar Street, where a passer-by spotted him about 4 p.m. and called animal services.

According to Welsh, an animal control officer arrived moments later and, with the help of the concerned resident, hoisted Charlie into a pickup truck and deposited him minutes later into a pen at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley.

The reptile’s owner, Lynn Olsen, inquired that afternoon whether Charlie was in the county’s custody, and after confirming as much, arrangements were made for a reunion, Welsh said.

The big tortoise was taken home Wednesday afternoon.

–City News Service

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