A PLUCKY tortoise escaped a back garden and was discovered safe and well 17 months later – after an epic six-mile trek.
Intrepid Stavi had been in a special run in the garden when she managed to sneak away in May last year.
Chris Barnes and his worried family immediately began hunting for the 16-year-old tortoise and put up posters.
They even set up a night vision camera underneath the garden shed to try and spot her but Stavi was nowhere to be found.
But they were stunned when a vet phoned saying Stavi had been found and was completely fine.
The adventurous reptile managed to make her way from the family home in Brentry all the way to St George in Bristol six miles away – crossing a section of M32 motorway and six parks as she crawled 150 yards a week.
Chris, 30, said: “It’s just incredible – we’re all amazed. There isn’t a nick on her shell or anything.
“We couldn’t believe it when we had the phonecall from the vet. We just thought, ‘What?’. She’d been gone for so long. It’s amazing.
“My mum has had her since I was at school – about 15 years now. She’s just like part of the furniture.”
Dad-of-one Chris, who who lives with his parents and son Max, five, in Brentry, said he had taken his eyes off the tortoise for just a second when she managed to vanish.
She usually has red electrical tape on her shell so the family can see her but the tape had fallen off.
The family were left devastated after they found 16-year-old Stavi in Chris’ grandmother’s garden when Chris was just a teen.
But they were delighted to receive the call from a vet in Kingswood last Wednesday.
Chris, who works in the manufacturing department at NHS Blood and Transplant, added: “My son is amazed – I didn’t tell him until we were totally sure, but he had a little scream and a dance when we brought her home. He’s very excited.”
He said he knew little of Stavi’s adventures during her missing 18 months, but would not be surprised if the family who handed her in had been looking after her for a little while.
“She seems absolutely fine – she’s exactly the same weight as before,” he said.
“Tortoises are expensive to look after, with all the equipment they need, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d been staying with this family for a bit.”
He added: “She had a nice long bath after we bought her home, to get all the crud from her journey off her, and we’ve got her bathing under a nice warm UV light now.”
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