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Troublesome tortoise reunited with family of 50 years after seven days missing in Suffolk village

PUBLISHED: 17:50 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:59 14 June 2018

Ella pleased to be back with her friend Chalky Picture: RSPCA

Ella pleased to be back with her friend Chalky Picture: RSPCA


A missing tortoise from Bacton has been reunited with his family thanks to a search campaign led by his nine-year-old owner.

Best friends Chalky and Spot reunited Picture: RSPCABest friends Chalky and Spot reunited Picture: RSPCA

Things were not looking good for Chalky, a spur-thighed tortoise, after he escaped from the Harris’ family garden in Rectory Road and went off the radar for seven days.

But the 60-year-old travelling tortoise hadn’t strayed far, and thankfully he was found on a road in the village on June 1 by a local man, who kept him safe while he phoned the RSPCA.

Chalky could have ended up lost for good if it wasn’t for a number of hand-drawn posters made by his young friend, Ella.

It was when RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Nicola Sullivan went to collect the troublesome tortoise that she spotted a missing poster, and set about reuniting the pair.

The poster, hand-drawn by nine-year-old Ella, which helped reunite Chalky with his family Picture: RSPCAThe poster, hand-drawn by nine-year-old Ella, which helped reunite Chalky with his family Picture: RSPCA

Ms Sullivan said: “It was thanks to Ella’s brilliant, creative poster that I noticed it outside the scout hut as I drove through the village, so I stopped to take a look at the details. I was on my way to collect the tortoise found by the member of the public, and I wondered if just maybe it was Chalky.

“When I arrived to collected Chalky, the man had taken good care of him, so I drove straight round the corner to the house listed on the poster to find the Harris family, and was so pleased that it was in fact Chalky. They were very grateful to have him back.”

Chalky was soon reunited with his fellow tortoise, Spot, who is also around 60 years old.

Kate Harris, Chalky’s owner, said: “The recent hot weather seems to have given Chalky and Spot a new lease of life and they’ve been very active, in fact, Spot also escaped at the same time but he wasn’t as quick as Chalky - we found him heading up our garden path.

“They’ve been in our family for more than 50 years so they’re very special to us. My daughter Ella is really good at helping us to look after them, and she was so worried when she found Chalky missing that morning when she went outside to take them both some food.”

She added: “It was her idea to draw a lost poster and she spent lots of time getting the picture just right, before we walked around the village pinning them up, hoping they would help Chalky be found.

“We’re so grateful to have Chalky brought back to us by ACO Sullivan, and it’s very lucky the man found him when he did.”

The RSPCA recommends that owners ensure gardens and enclosures are secure to prevent accidental escape. They also recommend that owners have their tortoises microchipped by an exotics vet, so that they can be reunited if they are lost and are found.

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This is a list that Suffolk should be proud of - 100 women who are positive role models for future generations, women who have achieved success in a diverse range of fields from business, the arts, sport and education to the third sector.

The list was put together by a panel of judges this summer after we asked readers for their nominations.

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