Woman's 52-Pound “Runaway” Tortoise Found

The world's a better place today for a West Chester woman who spent more than a week frantically searching for her 52-pound pet tortoise that ran off. Nala's back home after a trek that took her all the way to Lancaster County.

Simmer Dougherty's gate at her Chester Springs home was left open a little more than a week ago when Nala, apparently no slow-poke, pushed open a gate and made her great escape.

"She's really fast this time of year," said Simmer, who harkened back to Nala's first great escape two years ago. "She got three miles away within 24 hours," Dougherty said. "She went to my neighbor's house and tried to get in their door."

Doughtery, 48, an animal lover whose pets and rescued critters include a lamb, a miniature horse, dogs, goats, chicks and ducks, is pretty attached to Nala. She took her in to save her from a soup tureen. Doughtery was terrified that whoever found Nala this time might try to eat her or put her into a stream or river. "It would kill her," Doughtery said. "She can't swim."

Nala's great adventure came to a pretty swift end when the Inquirer picked up the story and Kevin Kopanski saw it. Eureka! Kopanski was driving along Route 113 when he saw someone poking an African sulcata tortoise with a stick, just four houses down from where Doughtery lives. He picked Nala up and took her over to the Great Valley Nature Center, according to the Inky. The next day, Nala was taken to Forgotten Friend, a reptile rescue in Lancaster County.

Kopanski got in touch with Doughtery who drove up to the rescue Tuesday night to bring Nala home.

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