A 30-year-old red-eared slider named Poseidon breaking free from captivity twice in a lifetime may not seem probable to most pet-owning Yellowknifers, but if 2020 brought us a wolverine spotted at the ski club and a black bear roaming near Frame Lake, an escape-artist turtle suddenly seems less surprising.
On Friday, the Yellowknife Lost and Found group on Facebook lit up with dozens of comments and shares after Allan Yeoman posted a photo of a turtle in a red bucket.
The Yellowknife resident received the reptile from a neighbour who found it slowly wandering the neighbourhood.
“But they were getting ready to go canoeing and didn’t really have time to deal with anything like a lost turtle. So I picked it up and put it in the bucket. All the kids came around and looked at it and didn’t know quite what to do,” Yeoman said. “He looked pretty dirty and he actually had some crumbled egg shells stuck to him as well. It looked like he’d been outside for a while. Before posting on the Yellowknife Lost and Found page, I called the SPCA and Great Slave Animal Hospital and they said they didn’t have anywhere to put a turtle.”
While social media users speculated that the reptile was the same one that escaped from the SPCA in 2018, Yeoman gave it some food and water and let it crawl around on the grass.
He tried to feed the turtle some vegetables but it appeared to have no appetite.
“I think he was a little stressed, a little spooked about the whole situation,” Yeoman said.
Social media helped bring the slow-moving missing case to a close, but not in the way that believers of the SPCA theory might’ve wanted.
“We were at the cabin on Walsh Lake. I turned on my cellphone and all of a sudden texts came in and one was from my daughter in Kingston, Ont.,” said Ed Hoeve. “Someone forwarded a Facebook post to her about the turtle.
“When we got home, we checked and the turtle was missing. We were talking to a little girl down the street and when I asked about a turtle, her eyes lit up and she knew who had it.”
The neighbours who initially gave Yeoman the turtle hadn’t yet left for their canoe trip, and their little daughter went over and told Yeoman that Hoeve and his wife Helen were the owners. They live across the street from Yeoman.
“I suspect the seven-year-old suddenly remembered that the Hoeve’s had turtles,” he said.
“I went over there, rang on their door doorbell and asked if they lost their turtle and they had just got home,” Yeoman said. “They’d heard from their daughter and sure enough, they were missing one of their two turtles. They came over and picked it up and took it home.
“It was kind of a neat little adventure. The little turtle got home safe and sound and was reunited with his brother, and it made for a bit of excitement.”
Hoeve said it felt “great” to get Poseidon back, but pointed out that it wasn’t unprecedented that the turtle got loose because the same thing happened 16 years ago.
Ed and Helen wrote a letter to the editor in the Yellowknifer on July 30, 2004 thanking members of the community for helping locate Poseidon and his brother Neptune, after they escaped from their backyard pond and went for a little wander.
“So, a somewhat similar experience happened last week,” Hoeve said with a laugh. “Poseidon is doing fine since he’s been home. But I suppose he enjoys his freedom more!”