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Posted by W von Papinešu on August 08, 2002 at 18:26:52:
LIVERPOOL ECHO (UK) 08 August 02 All's shell that ends shell! (Scott Faulkner)
Louise and Neil the tortoises are back in the loving care of their keepers at Southport Zoo, after an ECHO article about their plight melted the heart of their kidnapper.
The thief paid a taxi to hare it round to a police station with two stolen tortoises - after reading in the ECHO how they could not survive the cold.
The man boxed the tiny reptiles - the size of egg cups - and scribbled a note of apology underneath the ECHO cutting .
It simply said: "Sorry about the trouble."
Shellshocked Southport Zoo keepers feared the rare North American Box tortoises would die without proper care.
Staff were particularly upset as the tortoises, who were hatched in June last year, were the first pair bred in captivity.
Now they have been named Louise and Neil - after the police officers on duty when the delivery was made.
The creatures were taken from the reptile house on Thursday last week as the zoo was about to close.
Keepers reported seeing a mysterious man in the enclosure, who told them he was lost and looking for the toilet.
But after the ECHO reported the theft an anonymous Liverpool man called zoo director Carol Petrie on Saturday. He said the creatures were safe - and on their way to Copy Lane police station in Netherton.
Carol thanked the ECHO for helping bring the matter to a speedy conclusion. She said: "The thief saw the article and realised he could not look after them properly.
"We are just glad he saw sense and that we have them back."
Carol added: "When I went to the police station I at first thought they were dead as they were so cold.
"These creatures are not pets - they need special heating and incubation and a special diet that is high in vitamins and calcium.
"If they had been away from us for much longer they would have died."
Police traced the call to a public telephone box in Bootle and interviewed the cabbie, who said the man was in his 30s and wearing a blue tracksuit and gloves.
A police spokesman said: "We are happy the matter's resolved."