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Shell and back: Tata the Tufnell Park tortoise is home at last

Search for family pet ends with reunion after RSPCA helps rescue lost reptile

27 September, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Lucy Hepburn and her son Henry and daughter Mary with Tata

A FAMILY has been reunited with their pet tortoise more than a month after she went missing.

Delighted owner Lucy Hepburn said: “She’s a bit damaged in the shell department but it is amazing armour and she is making a good recovery.”

Tata, named after Pablo Escobar’s wife in the Netflix series Narcos, disappeared last month and Ms Hepburn said her desperate search included digging holes in the garden to see if the tortoise had burrowed underground.

“I was wondering where could she be and thinking she can’t have scaled the walls,” she said.

Tata had actually escaped to the Tufnell Park Playing Fields where she was found by a woman playing with her grandchildren.

Tata had an injury to her shell

They took her to the RSPCA Harmsworth Animal Hospital who in turn took her to a specialist centre in Putney where vets had renamed the four-year-old tortoise Brian.

Ms Hepburn was able to track down her location after an online appeal.

Tata – a 23cm long Hermann-breed tortoise – returned to the family home in Tufnell Park, on Friday. “Thank goodness for nice people and the RSPCA,” said Ms Hepburn.

Jo Elmes from the RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital said: “We were a little bit worried – we didn’t think she was going to make it. It looked like she had a nasty dog bite but it could have been a fox bite. But she ended up doing very, very well – mainly due to the antibiotics.

“We do see a lot of stray tortoises here but because they are not microchipped we don’t know whether they are missing. Many people don’t realise they can microchip their tortoises.”

Ms Elmes added: “We did suspect it [Tata] was a girl but the name Brian just came to us and it stuck.”


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