A cute creature who was destined for sale on the black market has been given a new home.
Meshell the tortoise was listed for sale illegally until a Good Samaritan saw something amiss and raised the alarm.
An animal welfare charity stepped in and took the animal into its custody in November – but its efforts to rehome her bore no fruit before Christmas.
However, an appeal for help in the Evening Express in January caught the attention of animal lovers Kairen Griffiths and Tim Tubby.
The couple contacted the Scottish SPCA’s centre in Drumoak to find out more about Meshell and decided to give her a new home.
The tortoise has been in her new surroundings at the couple’s home in Banchory for two weeks – and seems to be settling in well alongside the family’s chicken and two cats.
Kairen said: “She is very sociable – and a lot more entertaining than we had expected.
“Meshell has her own slide and likes to sit on Tim’s lap and loves to eat fruit – particularly anything red, like strawberries. She’ll always go for red food first.
“She seems to be attracted by voices: If you walk into a room and talk she will come wandering out. She is very curious.
“Our visitors love her.”
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The 58-year-old retired nurse added: “Our older cat doesn’t mind her and the younger one was a little bit wary at first but it is all harmonious, thankfully.”
While animal experts from the Scottish SPCA do not know Meshell’s exact age, they say she is “fairly young” – prompting an important question given that tortoises can live for more than a century. “It is something we’ve considered,” said Kairen. “We have three adult children and one of them will look after her in future.”
Tim, 60, a geologist, used to have a tortoise when he lived in England, before moving up to Aberdeenshire. “It’s a little warmer down there so it’s possible for tortoises to spend much more time outside,” said Kairen.
She added: “We’re hoping Meshell will be able to enjoy the garden here when it gets warmer.”
Scottish SPCA animal care assistant Robert Morrison said, “We are delighted Meshell has found her forever home following the Evening Express article. We wish her and her new owners many happy years together.”