An escaped tortoise native to the Saharan desert and found on an Eastvale street south of Corona was back with his happy owners Thursday after a skateboard ride as part of his return.
“King,” a 15-year-old Sulcata tortoise, was retrieved by Bonnie and Sean Wang after his roughly three-day stay at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley.
“Today was a happy day for King the tortoise. He was reunited with his Eastvale family,” Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said Wednesday.
He said King was spotted over the weekend in the middle of a street near the home of Angela and Javier Puelles, who managed to move the heavyweight reptile out of the roadway and onto their property.
The couple flagged down an animal control officer on his rounds on Easter Sunday, alerting him to the rare find, and the officer, Adam Haisten, borrowed a skateboard from King’s rescuers to ferry the tortoise from their residence to his county pickup truck, according to Welsh.
King was examined and placed in a holding pen at the shelter, after which the wayward leatherback’s story made the rounds on social media, Welsh said.
“Apparently the windstorm last week, before Easter weekend, blew open one of the gates at the Wang family home,” Welsh said, adding that King exploited the opening to make an extremely slow escape, without being detected by the couple.
The tortoise was microchipped by veterinary staff, much like a dog or cat adopted out of the shelter, in order to give him a name tag that facilitates easier identification, in case he makes a slow-motion break for freedom again in the future.
Sulcatas generally inhabit the southern Sahara on the African continent and have gained favor as pets in different parts of the world.