Friday, May 27, 2016
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Logan Auld holds Tank, a African Sulcata Tortoise, with his friends, Bryce Saywer, left, and Gus Earls. Tank’s owner discovered him missing on Friday afternoon. (Staff photo by Jon Watje)

By Jon Watje
Managing Editor

When Brandon Crossley discovered that his African Sulcata Tortoise, named Tank, was missing from his pen on Friday his heart raced.

"I was real nervous," Crossley said.

Residents on the east end of Mustang were taken off guard when they saw the giant turtle wandering their streets.

Tank made his way from his owner’s property on East Joyce Terrace a block over to East Brook Terrace.

"My friend’s mom called us to tell us about it crossing the road," said Logan Auld. "It looked like something that belonged in the zoo."

Tracy Sawyer, mother of Bryce Sawyer, Auld’s friend, spotted the giant that hot afternoon around 2 p.m.

"At first I thought it was a lawn ornament," Sawyer said.

The turtle made its way to the front lawn of Charlie Sowels at the 2300 block of E. Brook Terr.

"I have lived here for years and years and have never seen anything like that," Sowels said.

Sowels, along with Auld, Tracy, Bryce and their friend Gus Earls, tried to corral the behemoth to the best of their abilities. Tank stopped near a fence on the edge of Sowels’ property in the shade and dug up some mud to try to cool himself from the heat.

The group called Mustang Animal Control along with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to have them look at the turtle.

Jill Heck with Mustang Animal Control first arrived and was shocked at its size.

"I’ve never responded to a call like this before," Heck said.

Heck brought a portable metal cage to surround the turtle until the local game warden arrived.

David Rempe, a game warden stationed in Oklahoma City, arrived shortly after and was also surprised with what he found.

"It kind of looks like a alligator snapping turtle, but it’s not," Rempe said. "I am thinking that it might be someone’s pet."

The turtle was transported to the City of Mustang’s Animal Control location for holding.

"If someone doesn’t claim it in 72 hours, the people that found it can keep it if they want," Heck said.

A few hours after his breakaway, Tank was returned to his owner.

"One of my friends told me that they saw that he had been found on Facebook and thought it was probably mine," Crossley said. "I came to the conclusion that a horse let him out of his pen somehow."

Tank is one of two large turtles that Crossley owns.

"I’ve liked turtles my whole life," he said. "I’ve owned some that are even bigger than Tank. They are a lot of work to take care of."

Crossley said he has an insulated barn where he keeps his turtles during the winter time. He said turtles like Tank, who is 12 years-old, can live up to 100 years-old.


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