It wasn’t a prison break from Alcatraz.
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.