A family found their missing tortoise in a store room a few decades after they lost her, it was reported Friday.
Manuela disappeared from her home in 1982 and despite her owners had been searching for a long time, the tortoise was never seen again.
The Almeida family, whom Manuela belongs to, supposed that she had run away after builders working on the house left the front door open.
The lost pet was found only after the father of the family died earlier this month and the Almeida children set to clearing out a second-floor room in the house that he had filled with broken electrical items and always kept locked.
As The Telegraph reports, Leonel’s son Leandro was astonished to find the lost family pet alive inside a box containing an old record player.
He told reporters: “I put the box on the pavement for the rubbish men to collect, and a neighbour said, “you’re not throwing out the tortoise as well are you?”
“I looked and saw her. At that moment I turned white, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he added.
Leonel’s daughter Lenita, who had been given the tortoise as a childhood pet, said: “Everything my father thought he could fix, he picked up and brought home. If he found an old television he thought he might be able to use a part of it to fix another one in the future, so he just kept accumulating things. We never dared go inside that room.”
She went on, adding: “We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back. But no one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there, it’s just unbelievable.”
Rio de Janeiro vet Jeferson Pires explained that Manuela’s red-footed species of tortoise, can live long periods without eating.
He said: “They are particularly resilient and can survive for two to three years without food. In the wild they eat fruit, leaves, dead animals, even faeces.”
Mr Pires also suggested that the lost tortoise may have survived by eating termites from the wooden floor.
He added: “They are particularly resilient creatures.”
As The Daily Mail explains, red-footed tortoises, the species Manuela belongs to, are quite popular pets in South America as the tortoises are relatively inexpensive and are well-known for their interesting personalities.
When this kind of tortoises live in the wild environment, they mainly prefer dry forest areas and grasslands and feed on fruit, leaves, dead animals and even faeces.
According to scientists, red-footed tortoises can have a life expectancy of around 50 years. As pets, it is recommended that they are housed outdoors when conditions allow.
They are particularly resilient as they can exist for up to three years without any food. However, the species are also at risk from humans as the species is considered a delicacy in many cities of South America.