Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Maxi the tortoise scales 12in fence in bid for freedom and is found half a mile away one year later 

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A runaway tortoise has been found a year after it escaped by climbing a 12-inch fence in a bid for freedom. 

Maxi was found by dog walkers in the middle of a field just 0.6 miles from his Wiltshire home – having travelled at an average speed of just 0..00007 mph.

Susie Thomas and her neighbour Linda Rogers said they were ‘lucky’ to have come across the 14-year-old tortoise as he could have been crushed by a tractor in the field.

‘It was very lucky that Maxi was on the path we were walking on, as the field isn’t a right of way – we were walking the farm owner’s dog so we had permission to walk there – so otherwise he wouldn’t have been found,’ Miss Thomas, 24, said.

‘Obviously, with the harvest coming up, it could’ve been a very sad story if we hadn’t found him.’

After finding Maxi, the neighbours took him home and gave him food and water before searching local Facebook groups for any mention of a missing tortoise. 

Maxi, a runaway tortoise, has been found a year after it escaped by climbing a 12-inch fence in a bid for freedom

Maxi, a runaway tortoise, has been found a year after it escaped by climbing a 12-inch fence in a bid for freedom

Maxi, a runaway tortoise, has been found a year after it escaped by climbing a 12-inch fence in a bid for freedom

Maxi was found in the middle of a field just 0.6 miles from his Wiltshire home - having travelled at an average speed of just 0..00007 mph

Maxi was found in the middle of a field just 0.6 miles from his Wiltshire home - having travelled at an average speed of just 0..00007 mph

Maxi was found in the middle of a field just 0.6 miles from his Wiltshire home – having travelled at an average speed of just 0..00007 mph

It took three days, but the women eventually found the tortoise's owner Ruaidhri Jukes (pictured with Maxi)

It took three days, but the women eventually found the tortoise's owner Ruaidhri Jukes (pictured with Maxi)

It took three days, but the women eventually found the tortoise’s owner Ruaidhri Jukes (pictured with Maxi)

‘We made sure to ask the possible owners to describe their tortoise and send pictures first so we could make sure we would definitely give it to the rightful owner – we were wary that people might just claim it to be theirs,’ Miss Thomas, a behavioural economics student, said.

It took three days, but the women eventually found the tortoise’s owner Ruaidhri Jukes, who lives just 0.6miles from the field in Coombe Bissett where Maxi was found.

The Hermann’s tortoise – who could be distinguished by a distinctive chip on its shell near his head – had been missing since last August. 

Maxi is about the size of a small ball with a shell around seven inches long and six inches wide.

Mr Jukes said he didn’t know how his tortoise escaped as he was kept in an outdoors enclosure with fencing 12 inches high.

‘He would normally spend all day in his enclosure over the summer and I don’t know how he escaped – he just was not in there anymore,’ Mr Jukes, 23, said.

‘Maybe he climbed out but I don’t know,’ he said.

Mr Jukes said he didn't know how his tortoise escaped as he was kept in an outdoors enclosure with fencing 12 inches high

Mr Jukes said he didn't know how his tortoise escaped as he was kept in an outdoors enclosure with fencing 12 inches high

Mr Jukes said he didn’t know how his tortoise escaped as he was kept in an outdoors enclosure with fencing 12 inches high

Susie Thomas (left) and her neighbour Linda Rogers said they were 'lucky' to have come across the 14-year-old tortoise while out walking the dog as he could have been crushed by a tractor in the field

Susie Thomas (left) and her neighbour Linda Rogers said they were 'lucky' to have come across the 14-year-old tortoise while out walking the dog as he could have been crushed by a tractor in the field

Susie Thomas (left) and her neighbour Linda Rogers said they were ‘lucky’ to have come across the 14-year-old tortoise while out walking the dog as he could have been crushed by a tractor in the field

Mr Juke's said that following a previous escape attempt, Maxi was found by a neighbour as they cut their grass around nine months after the tortoise went missing

Mr Juke's said that following a previous escape attempt, Maxi was found by a neighbour as they cut their grass around nine months after the tortoise went missing

Mr Juke’s said that following a previous escape attempt, Maxi was found by a neighbour as they cut their grass around nine months after the tortoise went missing

He said he ‘really couldn’t believe it’ when he heard that his tortoise had been found as he’d given up all hope after a year.

‘He has escaped before and been missing for a similar length of time. So, at first, I was confident that he might come back.

‘But just before he came back, I had basically given up hope but he got found and came back home – it’s crazy.’ 

The first time Maxi escaped, he was found by Mr Juke’s neighbour as they cut their grass around nine months after the tortoise went missing.

Maxi, Mr Jukes has had since he was 10, is now safely home.   

‘He needs a little bit of TLC but he will be okay,’ Mr Jukes said.

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