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After 30 years, a live tortoise was found in a locked store room.

After more than 30 years, a family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was shocked to find their lost pet tortoise. But what’s even stranger is that the creature lived in the same house with them the whole time. The tiny animal had been locked in a storage room for 30 years before a family found her by accident. They finally realized that the tortoise wasn’t a female but a male!

Manuela, the tortoise, hasn’t been seen by her family since 1982. Everyone in the Almeida family thought at the time that she had lost forever, but they were all wrong. In 2013, Leonel, the father, died, and Lenita and Leandro, his children, decided to clean out the room where he kept all of his things. It was when they found out the tortoise had never gone missing.

Nathalye Almeida

“I put the box on the sidewalk for the garbage men to pick up, and a neighbor said, “You’re not throwing out the turtle, too, are you?” Leandro works for the Brazilian news site Globo G1. “I saw her when I looked. I went white at that moment because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

After so many years, the news that Manuela had been found alive and well-shocked everyone, especially Lenita, who had given Manuela to her as a gift when she was only 8 years old.

“My mom was crying when she got there because she couldn’t believe it. Nathalye, Lenita’s daughter, told THE DODO that they had found Manuela. “Everyone is happy to see Manuela again. But no one can figure out how she could live there for 30 years. It’s just incredible.”

No one in the family could believe the tortoise was still alive after being locked in the attic for so long, but the big question was how she had managed to stay alive. But it turns out that red-footed tortoises are very strong animals that can go nearly three years without eating.

But Manuela lived for thirty years without anyone knowing she was there, so the most likely explanation is that she ate larvae from the wooden floors.

Veterinarian Jeferson Pires from Rio de Janeiro said, “They are very strong and can live for two to three years without food.” They eat fruit, leaves, and termites in the wild.

It took the family 30 years to figure out that Manuela is really a Manuel. They all thought the tortoise was a female at first, but it turned out to be a male!

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