Saturday 23 September 2017

'Missing' tortoise pulls a fast one -- he was in garden all along

Deirdre Murphy, daughter of Fiona Eogan, with Florentine in Rathgar, Dublin. Photo: Collins
Deirdre Murphy, daughter of Fiona Eogan, with Florentine in Rathgar, Dublin. Photo: Collins

Edel O'Connell

A 100-YEAR-OLD tortoise who went missing over the weekend is not quite the adventurer that his owners had feared.

It had been thought that Florentine had made a bid for freedom through an open garden gate at his home in south Dublin -- sparking a huge search and an even bigger number of jokes and puns on social networking sites.

But he turned up safe and well yesterday -- in that same back garden in Rathgar.

It seems that the sun-worshipper had taken exception to the unseasonably cold weather and simply buried himself for a couple of days.

The tortoise -- who is believed to be 100 years old -- has been with the Eogan family for the past 40 years.

"He is a part of the family so we were very concerned when we thought he had escaped," Fiona Eogan said yesterday.

"It was completely out of character for him to just disappear and he has never buried himself before, so we were very worried, particularly as the back garden gate was open at the time.

"We're absolutely thrilled," said her daughter Cliona.

Mrs Eogan explained how the tortoise had been given to the family by an elderly lady who had also cared for him for about 40 years.

Tortoises like Florentine can live up to the age of 170. But few make as many headlines as he has inspired.

By Sunday afternoon the hashtag #rathgartortoise had gone 'viral' on Twitter with people both appealing for his safe return and using the family pet as a punchline for a series of puns and jokes.

Gardai in Terenure were contacted about his disappearance and in addition to tweeting about the case the family put up hundreds of posters around the locality seeking information on its whereabouts.

Yesterday, he sauntered back to his house covered in mud and leaves, blissfully unaware of the anguish he had caused.

The family thanked everyone who had kept an eye out for Florentine or who spread word of their appeal.

Irish Independent

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