Tortoise Acres Rescue & Sanctuary in Anderson
By Billy Pilgrim
By Billy Pilgrim
A SANCTUARY for tortoises in Anderson, California? I heard about Tortoise Acres a year ago when I was at an event at Haven Humane Society. My friends Kate and Ken Hoffman were there with a few of their adopted tortoises, and that took me back to my childhood in Southern California when it was not unusual to see someone’s escaped desert tortoise out for a summer stroll. We would take the tortoise home until we could find the owner. That seemed almost normal in SoCal, but Anderson?
Welcome to Tortoise Acres, a most-needed nonprofit sanctuary for these beautiful, loving creatures who for some reason got lost, abandoned or just needed care and love when their owners could no longer care for them. They come to Tortoise Acres from 14 states, some actually shipped UPS, and others driven from as far away as New York. Momo and Tristan came from Paradise, survivors of the Camp Fire. Found in an enclosure by PG&E workers and badly burned, they were taken to Tortoise Acres for sanctuary and rehabilitation, with Momo making a stop at UC Davis to have a feeding tube installed. That’s how Ken kept Momo alive until he started eating on his own.
I met a small box turtle, who was run over by an airplane landing on the Red Bluff Airport runway, his shell broken in many places. What a tale of survival! Cessna is doing well now at Tortoise Acres, thanks to the Hoffmans’ loving care.
What started this love affair with these funny shelled creatures? Ken told me Kate had given their pet tortoise away to a family member, and after two weeks, missed that creature so much, she acquired two more. Now there are approximately 70 living at the sanctuary and at Kate’s Shampoodles Grooming in Anderson.
Tristan the tortoise is 101, and still smiling with his original teeth. An African spurred foot sulcata can live to be 250 years old, and Tortoise Acres has two of them – Goliath (appropriately named) is a youngster at 27, and his buddy Sheldon (who took a shine to me, or maybe it was the whole head of romaine I fed him) is just a baby at age 15. Yes, they all have names, and to keep them straight, these tortoises sport name tags.
Whoever thought a tortoise could be affectionate? They love to be petted on their shell. I was surprised to learn that their tough outer shell is sensitive to touch, and has nerve endings that respond to gentleness. And like a lot of living creatures, tortoises enjoy a nice butt rub – on the shell.
Ken and Kate are connecting with a higher power at Tortoise Acres. For the Hoffman family, it’s a calling, a ministry. It’s love. •
www.tortoiseacres.com • Find them on Facebook