CARTHAGE, Texas (KSLA) - The timeless Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” demonstrates how slow and steady wins the race.
An East Texas tortoise has taken that theme to a whole other level by not only escaping but then vanishing.
You see, Tobi the tortoise, shouldn’t be able to get too far considering he’s still just a tween at 12 years of age and already approaching 80 pounds and two feet wide.
In fact, he could almost double in size by adulthood.
So some people cannot help but smile when picturing a search effort for Tobi.
But his new family is not smiling at the moment.
The African Spurred Tortoise is seen in recent photographs with 7-year-old Rodey and 3-year-old Ryder Romero at the family property in Carthage.
He seemingly vanished Tuesday, according to Brie Romero.
“We saw him kind of push on the fence with his foot and we thought, ‘Oh, he’s being so funny. He’s thinking the grass over there looks good. He wants to try to get out’.”
So Romero and the rest of her family went inside for lunch with Tobi last seen walking the fence line.
The Romeros strongly suspect that in the hour’s time between 2 and 3 p.m. Tuesday, the tortoise might have walked all the way down to a backyard gate by a pond.
With recent hot weather, the water level had receded enough that Tobi could have walked around that post.
And that, they believe, is how he escaped.
The Romero family said the newest member of their family, a tortoise so big and so slow, likely just blazed a trail right to that greener grass next door.
Brie explained how Tobi could move around deceptively quick.
"He's faster than you would think. If he's wanting to go somewhere, he moves a little quicker than you would think. And if he's determined, he's really going to keep pushing."
Rodey said he too is determined and delivered a message to all those who learn of Tobi’s disappearance.
“I want to tell that for everybody, every morning, to look out their window and walk around the yard every morning until they find it.”
This is not the first time Tobi has escaped.
At his first home, Brie said, the tortoise dug a hole under a fence to get away. He later was discovered hiding in tall grass at a nearby state park.
Now Brie and her family have taken to social media and reached out to local veterinarians, among others, to get the word out.
Some have asked whether Tobi might have gone into the water.
Brie does not think so, and said as much to her young sons.
That’s largely because tortoises cannot swim. Turtles get in the water.
Brie’s husband, Kooter Romero, urges anyone with information about their missing tortoise to please contact him by calling (903) 754-4082 or sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.