Animals never cease to make us wonder of their resilience and will to survive, even the ones that we keep as pets. We are all aware of the long life span of the tortoises, but believing that they can survive for a long period without being properly taken care of is amazing, especially when they are taken as pet.
Red-footed tortoises can live up to 150 years having the incredible ability to adapt to different climates and habitats in captivity. They are native in places with moderate climates.
In 1982, this kind of tortoise was given to Lenita Almeida, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as pet and she named it Manuela.
You may wonder what is here extraordinary, well; can you imagine a tortoise to live locked up in a storage room for three decades?
Let us first specify, the tortoise was not left there on purpose, but Lenita could not find Manuela when the house of her father, Lionel, had to undergo some construction. They believed that the construction workers have left the door open allowing Manuela to go outside heading for the forest.
Years have passed, in fact three decades since her disappearance, and the family believed that she is out there in the forest without even realizing that all the time she was in their house.
In January 2013, Lionel Almeida died, and his children decided to clean the storage room where their father kept things. The room was on the second floor that could be used for something else useful.
Lionel’s son, Leandro, noticed a box with an old record player that he planned to throw away when his neighbor made a comment if he plans to throw away the tortoise poking out of a hole in the box. Leandro could not believe that the tortoise was actually Manuela, the long lost pet. In their grief, this incident was overwhelming reminding them that wonders do exist, Manuela being still alive after thirty years!
He said: “At that moment I turned white, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
You can just imagine the joy Lenita felt when she saw her pet that was a gift from her father 30 years ago. Lenita remembers that they have never checked the storage room when they were looking for Manuela:
“Everything my father thought he could fix, he picked up and brought home. If he found an old television he thought he might be able to use a part of it to fix another one in the future, so he just kept accumulating things.
We never dared go inside that room. We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back. But no one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there, it’s just unbelievable.”
However, not many people could believe that something like that is possible doubting the credibility of this story. In 2013, the story went viral, and people were asking how an animal could survive without food, water, air, and vegetation.
Experts explained that the red-footed tortoises are extremely resilient and can survive almost anything.
Anthony Pilny, a veterinary surgeon and specialist in birds and reptiles at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in New York City, said that this turtle survived thanks to its reserve fat pads that are being used in the case of food scarcity. Plus, they have the ability to lower their body temperatures and other physiological processes thus entering into a temporary state of suspended animation from which they can later recover.
Jefferson Pires, a vet in Rio de Janeiro, stated the following:
“They are particularly resilient and can survive for two to three years without food. In the wild, they eat fruit, leaves, dead animals, even feces.”
He believes that Manuela had been feeding on termites from the wooden floors.