In the News
A tortoise taken from a local animal sanctuary three months ago has been returned healthy and happy.
Owners of SC-CARES discovered the 50-pound reptile, formerly known as Victoria, on the sanctuary's grounds Friday.
They believe whoever stole the seven-year-old tortoise returned it because she is actually a he.
Skip Yeager and Cindy Hedrick, co-owners of the facility, said a female African Sulcata is worth about $2,500 on the black market, but a male tortoise is worthless.
It is difficult to tell the sex of a tortoise because those organs are inside, Hedrick said.
However, after putting him in with other tortoises, they noticed that he was extra affectionate to the females.
They are ecstatic that the tortoise, now called Vic, has come home.
"We are whole again," Yeager said. "When we looked at the compound where the other tortoises are now, there was always a scar there."
Hedrick said they are sure that this is the same tortoise because they know his face after keeping him for seven years.
Also, the tortoise has a hair-line fracture in its shell above the head.
"There is no way two tortoises could have the same size crack in their shells," Hedrick said.
Fortunately, Yeager and Hedrick said Vic was taken care of during his time away from them.
He appeared to be clean, healthy and happy. And he even gained a little bit of weight.
They were worried about him surviving the elements, and his diet, consisting of low-growing shrubs, grasses, and even cactus.
Because these types of tortoises can not survive in temperatures below 50 degrees, he must have been kept indoors, Yeager said.
For the last three months, SC-CARES has been raising money to build a perimeter fence around the sanctuary that provides a home for exotic and endangered animals.
Yeager and Hedrick say they have raised about $7,000, which is enough money to purchase the fence, but they still need some materials, equipment and volunteer help.
The fence will have a gate and other security measures to keep any unwanted guests out of the facility.
To volunteer or make a donation, call 546-7893.