Museum seeks return of stolen tortoise

April 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

DUBUQUE, Iowa, April 4 (UPI) -- Officials at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Iowa said they were hoping for the safe return of an 18-pound leopard tortoise.

Directors at the Dubuque facility said someone climbed the 4-foot-tall glass wall this week and walked off with Cashew the tortoise, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids, reported Thursday.

"It could have been in a backpack or a large shopping bag or wrapped it in a coat," Executive Director Jerry Enzler said.

Enzler said Cashew was part of an exhibit featuring more than 60 turtle species.

Gail DeMoss, owner of New Earth Animal in Galena, said a tortoise like Cashew can fetch up to $2,000 on the black market.

Enzler said the museum was more concerned about the animal's well-being than about her worth.

"Whoever has it, we hope would call the museum and return it or at a minimum find out what's the best approach to keep the animal alive," Enzler said.

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