THE search is on to find a family’s much-loved 80-year-old pet tortoise.
Tilly the Hermann’s tortoise went missing from New Brighton Road, Emsworth, while her owner Jean Heal was away.
As soon as Mrs Heal realised Tilly was missing, the 63-year-old and her family searched the area.
A few weeks later, and with no luck, she called a nearby vet who confirmed a woman had found a tortoise in New Brighton Road.
But because she didn’t have a microchip and the owner could not be traced she took the tortoise herself.
Mrs Heal said: ‘As soon as we realised she was missing we put notices out asking if anyone had seen her.
‘She’s very old. We’re the third generation to own her.
‘After a few weeks we tried a different vet and they said yes, a lady had been in with a tortoise matching Tilly’s description.
‘She found her on New Brighton Road. But they scanned her for a micro-chip and when it was clear she didn’t have one she took her away.
‘All we know is that the lady who took her is from Portsmouth and works in Emsworth.
‘Apparently she was very smartly dressed.
‘We put a big board outside the house for weeks saying, “are you the person who found our tortoise?” but we’ve heard nothing.’
Mrs Heal’s three grandchildren are distraught that Tilly has gone.
She said: ‘She came from friends on the Isle of Wight when she was about 40 and we’ve had her for 40 years.
‘My children grew up with her and now the grandchildren love her.
‘They are very upset because I’ve always promised them that eventually she will be passed on to them.
‘She is a very funny little thing. And she’s never escaped before, in all these years.
‘We think perhaps the lady who found her has passed her on to a friend who she thinks might be able to care for Tilly better than her.
‘But we would really, really like Tilly back.’
The average life span of a Hermann’s tortoise is 50 years but the oldest recorded is 110.
If you have information about Tilly call 01243 376076.