Manuela the red-footed tortoise went missing 30 years ago – only to be discovered in a box – hidden away in a small room after all this time. The tortoise disappeared back in 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her family, the Almeida family, carried out an extensive and lengthy search, however, they assumed that she much have left when some builders left the front door open. She was never seen again.
After the patriarch of the family recently died, the kids began to clear out a locked storage room. Besides some broken electrical items and other assorted objects that had been collected over the years by the late Mr. Almeida, his son also discovered Manuela, alive, inside a box beside an old record player.
“I put the box on the pavement for the rubbish men to collect, and a neighbor said, ‘you’re not throwing out the turtle as well are you?’” the younger Almeida said to Brazil’s Globo website. “I looked and saw her. At that moment, I turned white, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Turtles are very much like snakes in that they’re both able to endure long periods of time without food. In the wild, turtles can enter states of suspended animation by decreasing their body temperature as well as other physiological processes.
But for 30 years? That is unprecedented!
Even Rio-based veterinarian, Jeferson Peres, said to Globo that red-footed tortoises in the wild have been known to survive without eating for 2-3 years. But 30 is truly a new record. Dr. Peres suggested that Manuela most likely survived by eating termites or other small insects, as well as by licking condensation.
Red-footed tortoises have a 50-year life expectancy, so that means that Manuela should still have a couple of good decades left in her.
Let’s hope the Almeida family is able to keep a better eye on her this time!
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.