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Pet owner reunited with tortoise more than a year after it went missing

Sybil, the African spurred tortoise, went missing 15 months ago but was finally reunited with owner Catherine Painter on Saturday. Credit: RSPCA

A pet owner has been reunited with her tortoise more than a year after she went missing.

Sybil, the African spurred tortoise, went missing 15 months ago but was finally reunited with owner Catherine Painter on Saturday after an extensive social media campaign.

The plucky tortoise was found just a few streets away from where Ms Painter lives in Wraysbury.

Ms Painter, who took in Sybil six years ago after finding her as a stray, said: "I grew up in Africa with tortoises so they have always been my big love."

She added: “Sybil just vanished from the garden one day.

“We’d been sent on so many wild goose chases that we’d almost given up hope.

"When a few villagers tagged me into the RSPCA’s post about her, at first, I didn’t even bother to properly read it.

"I didn’t think it could be her.

“When I spoke to the centre and they sent over some photos of Sybil, I was amazed.

"She looked just the same and even had the same little mark on her shell.”

The sulcata tortoise was reunited with Ms Painter at the RSPCA's Millbrook Animal centre in Chobham, Surrey.

Sybil the tortoise was found a few streets away from where Ms Painter lived in Wraysbury. Credit: RSPCA

Ms Painter added: "It’s so wonderful to have her home.

"My five-year-old grandson was so emotional!

“She’s got straight back into the routine and made a beeline for the vegetable patch, and she still loves cuddling up with the other tortoises.”

Ms Painter, who has four other tortoises, will have Sybil microchipped just in chase she decides to wander off again.

RSPCA senior scientific officer in exotics and wildlife trade Dr Stephanie Jayson said: “Tortoise owners often let their pets out in the garden during the summer weather and tortoises can become very active in the warm temperatures and sunshine.

"It’s really important that owners keep a close eye on their pets when outside or have a secure run to keep them in to keep them safe from other animals, and to ensure they can’t escape.”

Stephanie added: “We would urge anyone thinking of getting a pet - whether it’s a hamster, dog, snake or tortoise - to properly research that animal and its needs before bringing one home."