A family in Brazil have expressed their joy at finding their pet tortoise, Manuela, more than thirty years after she went missing.
She disappeared from the Almeida family home in Rio de Janeiro in 1982 and was never found despite an extensive and thorough search.
The family assumed she must have escaped through the front door, after builders who were working on the house at the time had left it open.
It was only after their father Leonel died earlier this month that the family started tidying and sorting his locked store room and made the discovery.
Leandro, Leonel's son, was clearing out boxes from his father's locked second-floor store room, and was throwing out what he thought was just a box with an old record player, when a neighbour pointed out the tortoise.
He told Brazil’s Globo G1 website: “I put the box on the pavement for the rubbish men to collect, and a neighbour said, ‘You’re not throwing out the turtle as well are you?’ I looked and saw her. At that moment, I turned white, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Lenita Almeida, who was given Manuela as a childhood pet, added: “We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back. But no-one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there, it’s just unbelievable.”
Experts believe that the tortoise survived by eating termites from the wooden floors.
Rio de Janeiro vet Jeferson Pires explained that Manuela’s red-footed species of tortoise can go for long periods without food.
He said: “They are particularly resilient and can survive for two to three years without food. In the wild they eat fruit, leaves, dead animals, even faeces.”