When Ellis arrived in Half Moon Bay, she contacted the owner of the property the tortoise was last seen shambling onto. He was sympathetic -- but he owns 600 acres of land, and Arthur is only about the size of a shoebox. Other folks living in the area said they'd keep their eyes peeled for Arthur, too.
But strange animals crawling through Half Moon Bay is nothing new. It turns out, Ellis said, there's an exotic animal refuge in the vicinity, and the area is prime dumping ground for unwanted pets. While this is often limited to cats and dogs, you might trip over a Russian Tortoise or two.
Yet while Russian Tortoises have bumpy shells, one of the cyclists told Ellis the tortoise he picked up was smooth -- "just like an army helmet." That's a perfect description of Arthur, or any California Desert Tortoise.
At 50-odd years old and with 30 years of captive living, a turn in the wild would not be ideal for Arthur. But Ellis notes that Arthur was, at one time, certainly a wild tortoise before being turned in to her museum in the late 1970s. And he could do worse than living in Half Moon Bay.
If the tortoise in question was, indeed, Arthur, "He's in a place where there's plenty of water, plenty of grass, and plenty of hiding spots," she says. "The things that'd bother him the most would probably be humans -- and coyotes. But most people think even a coyote wouldn't bother him that much."
That being said, she still wants him back. If you see Arthur -- or know his whereabouts -- call Ellis at (415) 554-9605.