You just never know what you’ll find when going through someone else’s belongings!
Back in 2013, the Almeida family of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was cleaning out patriarch Leonel Almeida’s home after he passed away. He had lived in the house for decades and raised his family there, but he also struggled with hoarding electrical equipment and other sundry gadgets.
Daughter Lenita de Almeida says her father had an entire bedroom dedicated to his hobby. Cleaning it out wasn’t a fun task, but she and a neighbor dove in one day and started unearthing all sorts of treasures. One of these treasures just happened to be alive!
“I put the garbage bag on the floor and the neighbor just asked me, ‘are you going to throw the turtle away too?’ At that moment, I went white and I didn’t believe it,” said Lenita’s brother, Leandro Almeida.
The turtle in question is actually a tortoise of the Chelonoides carbonaria species. Her name is Manuela, and she was their mother’s pet back in the 1980s!
Granddaughter Nathalye De Almeida explained that her grandma was only 8 years old when a contractor who was fixing the house left the garden gate open. The pet tortoise disappeared on the same day, leading the family to assume she’d wandered out of the open door. Her mother had been heartbroken, and she had told the story of her missing Manuela to all of her children as they were growing up.
When they saw the tortoise in their neighbor’s hands, they knew right away that it was none other than Manuela!
“We were shocked!” said Nathalye. “My mom arrived crying because she didn’t believe it. They found Manuela!”
The tortoise managed to stay alive for 30 years. They assume she was eating termite larva to survive.
The story draws skepticism from many people who insist no creature could survive for this long without a water source, but veterinarians like Jeferson Pires think it’s quite possible.
“Despite adverse situations, they can go a long time without eating,” he said. “Even without having scientific evidence to prove it, they can go two to three years without eating. In the wild, they eat fruit, leaves, feces, dead animals.”
Manuela was discovered almost 10 years ago and is still alive and kicking! The family did find out that she is actually a boy tortoise, so he goes by Manuel now. He still lives with Nathalye, and her mother and grandmother come to visit him all the time.
“She visits him weekly, happy to see my daughter with him,” she said. “She feeds him, pets him and kisses him. He’s part of our family. He is one of us.”
What an incredible story! We knew tortoises lived for a long time and were quite resilient, but who knew they could chill for 30 years and survive? Amazing!
Share this story to welcome Manuel home… or rather, back to the rest of the home!
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