Manuela the red-footed tortoise went missing 30 years ago, only to be discovered 30 years later in a box, hidden away in a small room. The tortoise vanished in 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her family, the Almeidas, conducted an extensive and lengthy search, but they assumed she had fled when some builders left the front door open. She was never seen or heard from again.
Following the death of the family patriarch, the children began to clear out a locked storage room. Aside from some broken electrical items and other random objects that the late Mr. Almeida had collected over the years, his son discovered Manuela alive inside a box next to an old record player.
“I put the box on the street for the garbage collectors to pick up, and a neighbor said, ‘you’re not throwing out the turtle, are you?'” the younger Almeida told Brazil’s Globo website. “I looked around and saw her. I turned white at that point because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Turtles and snakes are both capable of going for long periods of time without eating. Turtles in the wild can enter states of suspended animation by lowering their body temperature and engaging in other physiological processes. But for thirty years? That has never happened before!
Even Rio-based veterinarian Jeferson Peres told Globo that red-footed tortoises in the wild have been known to go for 2-3 years without eating. However, 30 is a new high. According to Dr. Peres, Manuela most likely survived by eating termites or other small insects and licking condensation.
Manuela should have a couple of decades left in her because red-footed tortoises have a 50-year life expectancy. Let’s hope the Almeidas can keep a better eye on her this time!