A Bexar County, Texas, sheriff’s deputy recently experienced the slowest foot pursuit of his career while chasing down a runaway tortoise.
Deputy Joe Garza happened to cross paths with the 60-pound African tortoise in West Creek in late February. When Garza reported the lost reptile, his supervisor recognized the culprit.
“The sergeant immediately knew this had to be the escape artist Seashell!” the BCSO wrote on Facebook.
Seashell had a past encounter with police in August 2021, when the sergeant had found the tortoise roaming around in West Bexar County and located its owners. That made it easier for Garza to reach Seashell’s owners to return their pet.
“Deputy Garza made contact with the family who had in fact been looking for their tortoise for a few days. Deputy Garza was able to place the 60 pound tortoise into his vehicle and drive to the owners’ residence and reunite the tortoise with its family,” the sheriff’s department wrote.
The department joked that the foot pursuit probably set a record for low-speed chases, and Garza received a certificate declaring him an “Official Tortoise Wrangler.” The agency posted on Facebook, “Deputy Joe Garza was presented with an award by his sergeant and lieutenant for catching the tortoise involved in the slowest foot pursuit Bexar County has ever seen!”
The BCSO added that the mischievous tortoise will probably find another a way to escape in the future. “This isn’t our first run in with Seashell, and with Seashell’s track record, we assume it probably won’t be the last!” they wrote.
Seashell is an African spurred tortoise, a species native to Central Africa that is known for digging deep dens in the hot weather to stay cool. The reptile is known to weigh up to 200 pounds and can span up to 30 inches in length. They also have long lives, with an average life expectancy of 50 years.
“They are curious, intelligent reptiles with lively personalities, especially when young,” the San Diego Zoo said.