Archive for Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Missing tortoise’s 10-day adventure included backyard escape, crossing highway

Arzula, a 25-year-old desert tortoise, crawls in the backyard of Emily Stoker, 22, of Tonganoxie. Arzula recently escaped and was missing for 10 days before he was found and returned to Stoker.

Arzula, a 25-year-old desert tortoise, crawls in the backyard of Emily Stoker, 22, of Tonganoxie. Arzula recently escaped and was missing for 10 days before he was found and returned to Stoker.

August 17, 2010


It wasn’t a prison break from Alcatraz.

Tortoise travels across highway, blocks until found weeks later

Arzula the tortoise from Tonganoxie was found 2 1/2 blocks away from his home after escaping through a broken fence. Enlarge video

But considering he’s a tortoise, Arzula’s escape from Emily Stoker’s backyard is pretty impressive.

Arzula’s journey began Aug. 3, when Stoker believes her 25-year-old tortoise — feeling adventurous — dug underneath the fence door in her Tonganoxie backyard.

Ten days later, and after crossing U.S. Highway 24-40, Arzula was found several blocks away and returned safely to his home.

There are only a few details about the tortoise’s adventure.

As Stoker, 22, posted “Lost Tortoise” signs across town and on Craigslist, Arzula was sighted one block over by a neighbor, who dropped the 14-inch tortoise in a nearby creek, believing that’s where he came from. More than a week later, Chuck McDaniel, who was working at C & M Auto Parts, spotted Arzula making the treacherous journey across the highway.

“Cars were flying by,” he said.

Arzula was slow and steady, of course.

“It almost looked like he was watching traffic,” said McDaniel, describing how Arzula would walk, stop, look around, and then start again.

McDaniel scooped up Arzula and placed him in a box. A few hours later, a customer mentioned the “Lost Tortoise” signs around town.

“I thought, ‘You’re kidding me,’” McDaniel said.

After a quick phone call, Stoker was reunited with Arzula.

“I was really excited,” said the animal lover, who has several other turtles, plus dogs and cats, at her home.

While she’s glad to have him back, one big question remains: Where was he headed?

One possible destination: Las Vegas.

Arzula spent his early years there before a friend gave him to Stoker as a present in July. And, Arzula was clearly headed West.

“It’d have taken him a long time,” said Stoker, as Arzula barely covered three blocks over 10 days.

Maybe the slow progress had Arzula considering a quicker mode of transportation.

In front of McDaniel’s shop, and clearly visible from across the highway, was a U-Haul truck the business rents out.


Amy Heeter 7 years, 9 months ago

I am glad he is home safe. Saw the ad on craigslist and thought maybe it will work.

amesn 7 years, 9 months ago

Cute story! Happy ending for Arzula and Emily

whynaut 7 years, 9 months ago

perhaps he was headed for an incredible journey

FishandGame 7 years, 9 months ago

The Desert Tortoise is federally protected and federal laws for ownership without proper authority are possible 25,000-50,000 dollar fines and up to one year in jail or both, furthermore it is illegal to transport a Desert Tortoise across the state lines of Nevada without written consent from The Nevada Department of Wildlife and Conservation. see page 3

It is possible that your Tortoise is legal if it is indeed 25 years old and depending on if you obtained it before 1989? see page 4

riverdrifter 7 years, 9 months ago

Stoker should be taken out and hung, by all means. Page 4 of freakin' what, BTW? Turn to page 5, where it says to take a flying jump at yerself.

del888 7 years, 9 months ago

It's obvious you should be called 'Mr. Knowitall". Get a life.

IslandContributor 7 years, 9 months ago

If you look on page 5 it clearly says "Captive Tortoises: In Arizona, California, and Nevada, legally-obtained captive tortoises and their progeny can continue to be kept as pets.' Dont forget to read it all!

KUnlv13 7 years, 9 months ago

She can keep the damn thing out there in KS; we have plenty of 'em out here. Lots of Vegas folk here have tortoise runs in their backyard, which of course are all fun and games until they hump and reproduce like jackrabbits, burrowing under my fence! Worse than Dennis the Menace

kujhawk1 7 years, 9 months ago

I believe that is actually an African spurred tortoise. Desert tortoise was used as a generic description. Whether those are protected or not, I don't know.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 9 months ago


Cut Arzula some slack! ... he only started when he heard that the Tongie Mayor's office was vacant and wanted to apply!

Sarah St. John 7 years, 9 months ago

Gamera is really neat He is full of turtle meat We all love you, Ga-me-raaaaa!!!!

Sarah St. John 7 years, 9 months ago

Favorite line:

"Arzula was slow and steady, of course."


CLARKKENT 7 years, 9 months ago





blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

This guy (gal) is lucky that someone didn't run over it when crossing the road. It seems like people go out of their way to run over the little box tortoises, snapping turtle and any snake around here. As kids, back in the 1940's (before law changed) we had 3 desert tortoises in our fenced back yard in California, they had about 1/2 acre to roam. Each tortoise had it's own "dog" house which they became very protective of. Yard was full of orange, fig and avocado trees, when the fruit fell the tortoises camped under awaiting the next drop. They especially liked figs and avocados. Since it did not get really cold, in the winter the tortoises would look for any sunny spot to warm up.

Katie Van Blaricum 7 years, 9 months ago

Desert Tortoises are a federally protected species. I know that in the state of California, owners are required to register their Desert Tortoises and provide them with an ID tag in case they go missing. Not sure if there are any such laws in Kansas, but they are a threatened species so I assume the Fish & Wildlife Officer here is correct. I hope this tortoise owner reinforces her fencing so this doesn't happen again. It sounds like she's a good pet owner since she posted all those "missing tortoise" signs.

Practicality 7 years, 9 months ago

Man, who wouldn't want to escape Tongie and head for Vegas!

blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

Tongie: Last week chicken rustlers now tortoise escapees!

bearded_gnome 7 years, 9 months ago

and drunken teen parties and porn pics.

oh man. Tongie is one happpenin' place man!

I am glad that Arzula is okay.
maybe Arzula needs a companion/mate?

Practicality 7 years, 9 months ago

Tongie is starting to turn into a Jerry Springer show.

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