He was a rebel. An outlaw. A defector from the human world.
But after three years on the lam in Massachusetts, Steve the tortoise is set to be reunited with his old human family.
Daniela Tsvetanova told the local newspaper Waltham Patch that Steve, a Russian tortoise, was her son’s beloved pet. But in October 2014 — after living with the family for five years — Steve disappeared from the family home in Waltham.
At the time, Tsvetanova posted on Patch that the family thought he may have slipped out while they were opening the door to the home.
“He is not dangerous,” read a flyer that described Steve as 5 inches long, 4 inches wide. “You can just pick him up and he’ll hide in his shell.”
And Waltham Animal Control posted about Steve on Facebook, asking the public to be on the lookout for the runaway reptile.
Over the years, there were some local sightings where people thought they may have found Steve, but the tortoise was never captured, according to Patch.
Months after Steve vanished, the family moved to California. Tsvetanova’s son didn’t want to, since they hadn’t found Steve yet, according to Wicked Local Waltham.
But this week, the family got an incredible surprise. About a mile from Steve’s old home, couple Josuhua Bennet-Johnson and Andrea Coughlan saw a little tortoise in their yard. Coughlan, who has experience working with wildlife, realized something was amiss. Russian tortoises in the wild are native to Central Asia, so you don’t normally see them wandering around Massachusetts yards.
The couple did some research, and eventually, social media led them Steve’s previous owners.
After seeing photos, Tsvetanova and her son were convinced it was Steve. He had the same face and the same markings on his underbelly. Tsvetanova said her son, who is now 16, cried with happiness when he heard the news.
The family’s friends in Waltham plan to reunite Steve with his old humans soon. We’re sure they’ll have a big shell-ebration.