Tortoise sighting: Help Kotter get back to his humans!
There’s been a possible sighting of Kotter, the 50-lb. African tortoise lost in Greensboro last August.
At around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, officer Jose Garcia-Perez of the Greensboro Police responded to a call reporting “a very large turtle” in the middle of Guilford College Road at its intersection with Bramblegate Road. When officer Perez arrived on the scene, the animal had safely crossed to the Bramblegate side of the road. With the tortoise no longer impeding traffic or presenting a danger to itself or others, the officer departed the scene.
The incident was not reported to animal control (who have been alerted to Kotter’s disappearance since last September) or the Greensboro Science Center.
Kotter, a sulcata or African spurred tortoise owned by Amia Stauffer Hill for 12 years, escaped from Hill’s home near the intersection on Lindley Road and Guilford College Road on Aug. 26, 2018, after having broken out of his enclosure. Large tortoises are powerful and tenacious diggers, and more capable of surmounting obstacles than those who’ve not owned one might suspect.
Hill told YES! Weekly that she’s owned Kotter since he was a hatchling “the size of a golf ball.” She described him as being roughly 2.5-feet by 2-feet by 1.5-feet in size, and gentle and accustomed to humans. She stated that he sometimes responds to his name.
In Kotter’s native ecoregion at the Southern edge of the Sahara, temperatures can drop from over 100 degrees-Fahrenheit during the day to 33 degrees-Fahrenheit at night, which would explain how he survived the winter. “Now that it’s warmed up, he’s going to be much more active,” Hill said.
Hill said that there is a reward for his safe return and that despite his size, it’s possible to pick him up. “I’ve lifted and carried all 50 pounds of him in the past.”
No native terrestrial or freshwater species of turtle other than the snapping turtle can attain anything near Kotter’s size. He can grow to weigh as much as 100 pounds and live for over 70 years. His is third-largest species of tortoise in the world after the Galapagos tortoise and Aldabra giant tortoise, and the largest of the mainland (i.e., not island-living) tortoises. In the wild, his diet would consist of grasses, high-fiber plants, flowers and cacti. Like most tortoises, he is a solely terrestrial animal and does not swim.
If you have seen Kotter or have a possible lead on his whereabouts, contact Amia Hill at (828) 781-6744 or email Amiastauffer@yahoo.com.