A family found their missing pet tortoise in a store room more than thirty years after they lost her. Manuela disappeared from her home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1982 and despite a lengthy search was never seen again. Her owners, the Almeida family, assumed she had run away after builders working on the house left the front door open.
It was only after their father Leonel died earlier this month that the
Almeida children began clearing out a second-floor room in the house that he had
filled with broken electrical items and always kept locked. Leonel's son Leandro said he was astonished to find Manuela alive inside a
box containing an old record player.
He said: "I put the box on the pavement for
the rubbish men to collect, and a neighbour said, "you're not throwing out the
tortoise as well are you?"
"I looked and saw her. At that moment I turned white, I just couldn't believe
what I was seeing." Leonel's daughter Lenita, who had been given the tortoise as a childhood pet,
said : "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." Rio de Janeiro vet Jeferson Pires explained that Manuela's red-footed species
of tortoise, can go for long periods without eating. He said: "They are particularly resilient and can survive for two to three
years without food. In the wild they eat fruit, leaves, dead animals, even
faeces." He said Manuela may have survived by eating termites from the wooden floor.