A 150-pound tortoise found wandering in Alhambra this weekend has been reunited with its family, officials announced Sunday.
When found, “the tortoise did try to make a run for it, but our officers are pretty fast,” the Alhambra Police Department said on its Facebook page. Handcuffs, it noted, were “not practical in this situation.” The tortoise is named Clark and belongs to an Alhambra family, the department said.
The animal was spotted Saturday, and police took it to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.
Ruth Jauregui, who works at the county animal care center in Downey, told the Los Angeles Times that Clark was too big to fit in a cage there, “so it was on the floor a little bit, walking around.”
She said she heard the tortoise took the opportunity to escape from home while its owners were at a ballgame. “I think it pushed something out of the way and got out and it went a few houses down” before a neighbor saw it and called police, she said.
The tortoise's excursion ended midday Sunday, when its owners arrived to take it home.
California law allows people to keep all types of tortoises as pets, although permits are required for certain desert tortoises, Gary Wilfong of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club told The Times. Turtles and tortoises sold as pets also must be more than 4 inches long so they can’t be flushed down toilets and into the sewer system, and so children can’t put them in their mouths, he said.
Based on photographs taken by police, Wilfong identified Clark as a sulcata tortoise, a species native to Africa. He said Clark looked to be in good health and looked like an 18- to 20-year-old male. Sulcatas can live 75 to 100 years, he said.
It was unclear exactly how long Clark wandered, but Wilfong said that in general, tortoises can run as fast as 1 mile per hour “if they really want to.”
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7:14 p.m.: The Alhambra Police Department initially said the tortoise's name was Dirk, but it has corrected itself, saying the name is in fact Clark. This post has been updated to reflect that change.