Tortoise returned after 2½ weeks on the lam

July 4, 2008 7:50:16 AM PDT
A 60-pound tortoise that escaped from a family's garage last month is back home after a 2½-week adventure that took him through three northwestern Indiana towns.

Tank, an 8-year-old African spur thigh tortoise, was returned Wednesday to owners Mark and Kim Hirchak after they called Munster police to report him missing.

The couple had earlier called Highland and Hammond police, but Munster officers knew all about the missing reptile, which had turned up at a gas station not long after his escape.

During his absence, Tank was shuttled between various homeowners, including a couple whose backyard strawberry patch and flowers became his dinner.

Fourteen-year-old Kylie Hirchak said Tank, who escaped when someone left open a garage door, is like a member of the family.

He's one of two tortoises the family owns.

"I'm really happy. It feels like we just found our lost brother or something," she said after Highland resident Jeff Dixon brought Tank home in a van.

Her 12-year-old sister, Kelsie, had feared that Tank fell into a ditch or that someone put him in a pond and he drowned.

Tank's freedom wasn't his first. He escaped during a Fourth of July party last year and was found three days later at a post office about three miles away.


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