Bay Ridge tortoise escapes, sending neighborhood searching

Doris the tortoise ran away from her Bay Ridge home last week.
Laura Torres

A Bay Ridge tortoise escaped her pet-owners’ home last week, devastating the reptile’s human mother — but the southern Brooklyn community has rallied to the rescue, venturing out to help search for the missing animal. 

“People have been great. I’ve been putting flyers in people’s mailboxes, and they’ve called to tell me they’re looking. People have had their own search parties, and kids have been looking,” said Laura Torres. “They’ve been so supportive.”

Doris, a brown African Leopard Tortoise, made her getaway from Torres’ home at 94th Street near Ridge Boulevard on April 21 when the Ridgeite’s backyard gate was left open for just 20 minutes, she said.

“Like anyone who has lost a pet, we feel horrific. We feel like there’s 30 things we could’ve done better in hindsight,” Torres said. “But accidents happen, and you have to deal with that — so that’s where we are.”

The distraught tortoise owner quickly took to social media to alert community members of Doris’ great escape, pleading for any information about her whereabouts.  

“We’ve had Doris for over 20 years in our family, longer than our own children,” she wrote on the animal-finding site PawBoost.

A 15-year Bay Ridge resident, Torres quickly received an outpouring of support, including from area Councilmember Justin Brannan, who posted information to Facebook about the missing reptile.  

“And you thought Bay Ridge wasn’t a small town? There’s an African leopard tortoise named Doris on the loose and we need your help!” Brannan wrote

A sign for Doris hangs in the window of Bay Ridge Animal Hospital.Shannon Legg/Bay Ridge Animal Hospital

If she’s still on the street, Torres said, Doris usually walks around during warmer days, while sheltering when it’s cold. 

“She’ll sit somewhere for a long time, especially when it’s cold. At that point she’ll definitely hide, and stay there for quite a bit, while she waits for the next day, when it’s warmer again,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “When she rests, she likes to be hidden and sheltered, maybe under bushes where her colors can blend in.” 

Yet Torres said the 10-inch by 6-inch animal is fairly easy to spot when out-and-about, leaving her to fear that someone may have scooped up her beloved friend. 

“We haven’t really seen any sightings, which is concerning because she is very visible. She’s not small,” she said, “It’s possible that someone took her, she’s very visible. We’re hoping if that’s the case, someone returns her. Maybe they just didn’t know we’re looking.”

She’s even offering a monetary reward for Doris’ return. 

“No questions asked,” Torres said. “We just want her back.”

Anyone with information can contact Laura Torres by phone at (718) 374-4325 or by email at [email protected].