The search continues in Fairfield for a missing tortoise, which also happens to be a social media star.
“She really was this spot of sunshine in our life that was just very regular, part of our routine,” owner Kacey Kuchinski said. “Losing that feels very much like losing a loved one.”
It’s been an emotional and frantic two weeks searching for Ethel, a 2-year-old Sulcata tortoise, a native to the African savanna.
“This is the gate where she got out,” Kuchinski said.
During the day, her owners on Bridal Bridge Drive typically allow Ethel to roam outside to get sun and exercise.
They’ve put up little fences and plant pots to keep her from escaping.
But that day, her owners left the house briefly, and it appears Ethel found an opening.
“People keep telling me, ‘Oh she’s a tortoise. How far could she have gotten?’ Kuchinski said. “They’re built to walk miles in a day.”
But Ethel is no ordinary tortoise. She’s an Instagram sensation, stealing hearts online with more than 6,500 followers.
She dressed up for Halloween last year as a ladybug.
“All of a sudden, she started getting more and more followers,” Kuchinski said. “People were sharing her. She was featured on Buzzfeed.”
One of those fans is in Los Angeles.
“I follow Ethel on Instagram, and when I saw that post that she was missing, I was so heartbroken for her family,” Jadee Rhodes said. “I cried because I have a tortoise of my own, and I know the pain that they are going through.”
Rhodes is rooting for Ethel to come home.
“I’m offering $500 for anybody that finds her and returns her safely,” Rhodes said.
A family is torn, but Ethel’s fan club is keeping the hope alive.
“Trying to hold on to that thread of hope that maybe she’s out there, and somebody might find her, and she could come back to us,” Kuchinski said.
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