LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A tortoise is missing from the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, and staff members believe that it was stolen.
A report was filed with the Lufkin Police Department yesterday after zookeepers noticed the animal was missing from its exhibit.
"Immediately, a very thorough search was put into progress," said zoo curator Celia Falzone. "We had basically the whole staff looking around and trying to check, just in case."
In the Lufkin Police report, Falzone reported that the tortoise was stolen sometime Monday afternoon, around 4:30.
Falzone also stated in the report that she believed someone reached over the waist-high, cement barrier to take the animal.
"It's upsetting. It's disappointing," Falzone said. "I mean it's just hard to understand people who do things like that."
Zoo keeper Adam Dezot, worked closely with the male tortoise who was hatched at the zoo only five years ago.
"The animals you work with almost just become a part of your family," Dezot said. "I mean, the tortoise was kidnapped. It's just horrible. I can't understand why somebody would do that."
Not only is the tortoise a treasured member of the Ellen Trout Zoo family it's also classified as endangered.
"They do have a lot of special needs," Dezot said. "They are on special diets. Some of the stuff we get you can't just get at the supermarket, for these guys. The care that they take, I mean, it's not just something that you can throw a piece of lettuce at."
The zoo does not currently own any security cameras, and Falzone had no comment regarding whether or not the zoo will be installing cameras in the future.