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Pet store wants its stolen red-footed tortoise back

ASHLAND — The owners of Ashland Pets are asking the public's help tracking down a rare red-footed tortoise stolen Monday from the store.

Owner Julie Klein was redecorating the turtle aquarium when a young woman came in the store and struck up a conversation.

Klein left the woman, who said she was from Jacksonville, alone with the turtles and ventured to the back of the store to fill up some water bowls.

When she returned the woman and one of the store's two red-footed tortoises had vanished.

"I really worked hard to get these little babies in here," Klein said. "We were devastated Monday."

The turtle is listed as endangered in its native South America. They are popular in the pet trade, though wild-caught red-footed tortoises usually die from shock in captivity. The stolen reptile was captive bred in Florida.

"I'd rather not sell endangered species taken from the wild," Klein said.

The baby turtle requires daily feeding of either chopped greens, fruit or Turtle Bites. They need to be fed 2 to 3 times a day until they mature.

Owner Ron Green said he would like to get the turtle back, but if that doesn't happen, then he hopes the person will take proper care of the reptile.

"I don't want it to die," he said. "Hopefully, the person will research the turtle."

The turtle needs a full-spectrum ultra-violet light during the day, and a cage temperature of 95 degrees. The environment should not slip below 75 degrees at night, Klein said.

The theft has forced the owners to consider installing security cameras and keeping the cages locked at all times. They also are preparing to name a reward for information leading to the turtle's safe return.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

A rare, young red-footed tortoise, which looks similar to this more mature specimen, was taken from an Ashland pet store Monday. The store’s owners are concerned for the animal’s care.