Peter the Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanii) has escaped the English autumn to join his owners in Texas. No-one knows how old Peter is, but he’s been with the same family for over 50 years!
There was a bit of a rush on to organise Peter’s flight as he had to travel before he started getting ready to hibernate for the winter. However, Hermann’s tortoises are an endangered species protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. So he couldn’t travel until his CITES export certificate was issued.
Peter stayed with family friends in the UK while the export paperwork was prepared. They were getting increasingly anxious as the days shortened, the weather cooled, and Peter began to lose his appetite.
Fortunately the paperwork was completed before Peter had curled up for the winter, and he was checked in to fly with BA from Heathrow to Houston. Special clearance from UK customs is required for animals travelling with CITES certificates, but the process was rather drawn out. Eventually at the 11th hour Peter got the OK. Time was extremely tight, but BA saved the day by arranging a special car to deliver Peter to the aircraft.
Peter’s family wrote to say:
“Thanks to you all for getting Peter here. He settled into his new home yesterday evening, ate some lettuce and tomato and burrowed into his hay when it got dark.”