York-Poquoson deputies help rescue 150-pound tortoise

A 150-pound tortoise is resting in a Newport News petting zoo after it reportedly fled from its owner.

York-Poquoson Sheriff’s deputies helped retrieve the 17-year-old reptile, named Elwood, after it was spotted by utility workers on Aug. 27.

The unidentified owner agreed to donate Elwood to the Peninsula SPCA & Petting Zoo.

“He's doing great,” SPCA executive director Ellen Thacker said Thursday. “We've built him his own little habitat, and he's ready for visitors. You can tell he's been around humans because he's so friendly. He even seems to know his name.”

Elwood wandered away from his owners' home on Rural Retreat Road in York County. A block away, utility workers spotted him just off of Showalter Road, according to a post on the York-Poquoson's Sheriff's Office's Facebook page.

Deputy Sheriff Julia Kellum and Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff Jason Patch rescued the tortoise and returned it to its owner with some help from several people. They were assisted by York County Department of Fire and Life Safety Animal Control, according to the department’s post.

Tortoises differ from turtles because they are land-dwellers that eat low-growing shrubs. Turtles have webbed feet and spent most of their lives in water.

Despite being 17 years old, Elwood is still young and spry; some tortoise species can live 200 years.

Thacker said Elwood's owners had had him since he was a baby.

“(Elwood) is in good health, and we hope to have him around for a long time,” Elwood said. “He’s just fascinating.”

The Newport News petting zoo is open six days a week, and is part of the SPCA shelter and adoption center. For information on its hours and animals available for adoption, go to http://peninsulaspca.org/ or call (757) 595-1399.

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