City seeks public's help to find turtle

Tortoise was snatched from park's nature center

August 07, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police issued a citywide lookout yesterday for a brown and yellow leopard tortoise that was stolen late Thursday or early yesterday from a nature center in Leakin Park.

The unusual pronouncement was delivered by a police dispatcher in a monotone voice, using typical law enforcement vernacular: "Any officer coming in contact with said tortoise should hold same and notify."

Police said someone broke into the city-run Carrie Murray Center and took the tortoise named Sophia, who is given free run of the building.

The only other item reported missing was a large animal carrier.

Police said they have no leads in the case, though they were sorting through fingerprints found at the center. The tortoise has brown and yellow cone-shaped designs on its shell.

"The kids are so sad," said Corinne Parks. the center's director. "The kids love her. They took care of her at our camp."

Sophia is 25 and could live as long as 80 years. But Parks said she suffers from respiratory problems and needs medication.

Parks said the center received the Madagascar tortoise as a gift about six years ago.

Tortoises are warm-weather animals, so this climate should be perfect. But Parks said she is concerned that whoever took Sophia might let her out in the winter, which could be deadly because the tortoise does not hibernate.

The Carrie Murray Center, named after the mother of former Baltimore Orioles star Eddie Murray, is home to many animals. In addition to providing education to children, it is a rehabilitation center for birds of prey.

The center is offering a $100 reward for information leading to the safe return of Sophia. Anyone with information is urged to call the center at 410-396-0808.

Pub Date: 8/07/99

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