A tortoise believed to be run over by a vehicle could live another 90 years thanks to the care of Washington State University veterinarians.
The unnamed tortoise, now known as Terri, was found on the side of a road in Benton City, Wash., back in March.
Her shell was smashed, there was a section of exposed spinal cord, and she was in shock when she was found. Miraculously, she was still able to move all four limbs.
“Honestly, I didn’t think she was going to make it, but I wanted to take her to the place where she would get the best care,” Kyley Ackerson said.
Within minutes, Ackerson, with her fiancé David Cotton behind the wheel, decided to make the one-hundred- and fifty-three-mile drive to WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
There, WSU’s exotics team, with veterinarian Marcie Logsdon on the case, spent nearly three months tending to Terri.
“We were hopeful. We thought she had a reasonable chance because she is an African spur-thighed tortoise and tortoises can heal some amazing things,” Logsdon said. “This one was a fighter.”
The roughly 20-pound tortoise nearly succumbed to her wounds the first night.
“If we wouldn’t have taken her to WSU, she would have died that night,” Ackerson said.
After a few weeks at the hospital, Terri started to grow new bone over the crack in her shell.
However, she was still slow and appeared ill.
As her stay at the hospital continued, veterinarians found Terri was not defecating. An x-ray revealed the tortoise had eaten over 70 rocks before she came to the hospital. The rocks ranged from quarter-sized stones to pea gravel.
Many enemas, fluids and weeks later, Terri was able to pass the rocks.
Logsdon said if not for the rocks, the tortoise would have been able to leave the hospital much sooner.
The only thing more shocking than the rocks to the exotics veterinarian — the couple’s generosity.
“They only knew this tortoise for five minutes and they drove all the way to Pullman and footed the entire bill,” she said.
Ackerson said she raised more than $1,000 of that bill through a fundraiser on Facebook.
“Friends, family, strangers I don’t even know. They heard her story and now, here we are,” Ackerson said. “I am an animal person and I hope someone would do the same for me if I was in that situation.”
Ten-year-old Terri is still bouncing back and strengthening her back legs for what could be the next 90 or more years of her life. She needs it too. Tortoises like Terri grow to an average of 70 to 100 pounds but can grow as large as 200 pounds.
Back in Benton City, Terri is getting spoiled with carrots, geraniums, hay and lettuce.
“Reptiles don’t show emotion, but I like to think she’s happy,” Ackerson said.