A 70-year-old pet tortoise made a dash for freedom and walked SIX miles in just a day to the local zoo – where a “sprightly” young female has just moved in.
Runaway reptile Freddie stunned his owners after covering the incredible distance in only 24 hours at an average speed of 0.25 miles an hour.
He was finally found by a passer-by in a lane at the back of Jersey Zoo – which has recently taken in a 15-year-old female tortoise called Astrid.
But Freddie never got to meet Astrid before he was picked up and handed into a tortoise sanctuary.
He has now been reunited with owner Joanne Stanton after a Facebook appeal and is preparing for hibernation.
But Joanne, 53, of St Mary, Jersey, describes Freddie as a ‘typically slow’ tortoise and is amazed at how much ground he covered.
“He’s a typical tortoise – slow,” she said. “He does pick up a bit of speed when he sees a dandelion.
“Whether he had a few dandelions before he set off, I don’t know.”
Freddie has been in Joanne’s family for more than half a century but she took him in from her father-in-law three years ago.
The pet has previous form for running away, and once went missing for more than a year – so they painted his address on his shell.
She added: “In the past when the father had him, Freddie went missing for more than a year and when he got him back he painted the address on the shell.
“Although it had worn off, there were still specs of white paint which was how we knew it was him.
“He lives in a hut in the garden and when we came back from work, he was no-where to be seen.
“We then got a call to say he had been found round the back of the zoo. We have a fence around the garden but he must have bashed his way out.
“It is a bit of mystery.”
Joanne said the family – which includes husband Les, 53, and their three children, Josh, 16, Jake, 14, and Molly, 14, all feared the worst.
They said there was no sign of him until a volunteer from the Tortoise Sanctuary in Rouge Bouillon got in touch to say he had been handed in after being found in Trinity – six miles from the family home.
A passer-by had stumbled across the touring tortoise in a lane at the back of Jersey Zoo a day after the family had noticed he had vanished.
Freddie’s speed of 0.25mph is slightly faster than the typical average tortoise speed of 0.18 to 0.20mph.
Joanne, a medical receptionist, added: “That is what makes this all such a mystery.
“I am really curious to find out what did happen to him.”
Freddie was reunited with his family after a member of staff recognised the description of the reptile – which included a mention of paint marks on his back – which Mr Stanton posted on Facebook after he had gone missing.