You may remember Mauricio, the tortoise who was part of our rehabilitation and release program. When he was brought to us, he was in pretty good shape after someone decided to keep him as a pet. Sadly, he had an “M” carved into his shell by some unknown person. Mauricio wasn’t used to existing on his own and having to sustain himself off the land. He was housed in one of the rehab yards for several months, learning the behaviors he’d need to survive in the wild. Once he was released, we saw him occasionally; he’d pop up here and there, we’d give him a little bit of fruits and vegetables, and he’d move along.
This week he popped in again after not seeing him for about 6 months. We saw him out of the corner of our eye, drinking water from an overflow. We gave him some fresh water to make sure he was nice and hydrated, a slice of watermelon, and a couple pieces of apple. After his snack, he went on his way.
One of the difficult parts of working with wildlife in a release capacity is that often you don’t know if they’re okay on their return to the wild; that’s the reality of the work. We might see deer on the property, but will never know if that’s one we’ve worked with. The female tapirs stop by during the dry season for fallen mangoes and to drink from one of the water dishes, but we don’t see the males come through. You just have to hope that everyone is okay and thriving. So, we were happy to see Mauricio make his way through the sanctuary on his way to wherever he wanted to go.
P.S.: This video has great sound effects. Much like with elephants and melons, hearing a tortoise crunch on an apple is incredibly satisfying.