Hunt continues for runaway tortoise


The Dublin owners of a 100-year old tortoise were left shell-shocked yesterday after the pet which has been part of their family for 40 years ran away from home.

Florentine the Tortoise fled the leafy Rathgar back garden which has been his stomping ground since the early 1970s yesterday evening after he spotted an opportunity to make a bolt for freedom when a member of the family inadvertently left a side gate open for a short period.

Once his owners, the Eogan family, realised he was missing they quickly launched an extensive social media campaign and within hours the plight of the tortoise had become a top trending topic on Twitter.

By this afternoon the hashtag #rathgartortoise had gone viral with users of the social networking site both appealing for his safe return and using Florentine as the punchline for some unfortunate puns and jokes.

Gardai in Terenure were contacted almost as soon as the family realised their pet had come out of his shell and done a runner and in addition to tweeting furiously about the case the family also spent much of yesterday putting posters up around the locality seeking his safe and speedy return.

"We are pretty sure he's not dead because if he had been run over on the road in front of the house there would be evidence everywhere," owner Cliona Eogan told The Irish Times yesterday. She expressed the hope that Florentine had made it as far as a neighbour's garden and was lurking in the bushes waiting to be found.

While the family remain anxious and are hoping for his safe return they are optimistic and believe time is on their side as he can go fairly long spells without food - he is partial to lettuce leaves.

Florentine was inherited from an elderly lady 40 years ago. She had also had him for a period of 40 years.

Typically tortoises live to ripe old ages - the oldest one on record made it as far as 177 - and when the Eogans had Florentine aged several years ago they were told he was around 100-years-old. The vet at the time said he had worked out the age by counting the rings on his shell although this method of tortoise aging that has been disputed by many experts.