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Happy ending for tortoise

PUBLISHED: 16:38 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:56 30 June 2010

HE nearly had one foot in the grave, but thanks to his stealth and speed - and a bit of help from The Mercury - Basil the tortoise is back home safe and sound.

HE nearly had one foot in the grave, but thanks to his stealth and speed - and a bit of help from The Mercury - Basil the tortoise is back home safe and sound.

When Jane Taylor of Bradwell found a small tunnel burrowed underneath her garden fence, she was struck with panic as she realised her pet of 35 years had broken his way out.

Worse was to come. She quickly realised Basil - named after Basil Fawlty because of his “fawlty” misaligned

jaw and estimated to be 70 years old - had dug his way into a major building site.

Little did she know that just a few hours after he had made his great escape, her reptilian Houdini had

used his natural hardhat to complete

the crossing and covered half a

mile before being recognised as an escapee.

Mother-of-three Jane said: “When I first realised he was gone I was devastated and went out looking for him. I had visions of Basil digging himself a hole on the site and waking up with a building on him!”

Soon word of the escape artist, who

had made his break on Sunday, May

23, spread like wildfire, and dog

walkers were joined by builders

from the site in the hunt for the

tortoise.

And with him still missing on Thursday morning last week, a desperate Jane put in a call to The Mercury.

However, on the day he escaped he had found sanctuary.

Half a mile away and unaware of

the furore, Doll Humphries sat with

her husband David in their garden

on the other side of the village.

Soaking in the sun, she little

expected to see the tortoise with a love of cooked broccoli scuttling across her patio.

The 66-year-old said: “David

spotted him and it was surprising how fast he was moving - he looked like he was really on a mission, and there's

no way he could have got to our

home other than to go across the building site.

“It took a bit of time to corner him, but when we did a neighbour told me about a friend who has a tortoise and who could look after him.”

The friend cared for him until

last Friday - the day Doll spotted

the “Lost tortoise appeal” in The Mercury and promptly got in touch with Jane.

A relieved Jane said: “I cried tears of joy when I saw him. I didn't allow myself to hope I would find him again, and there he was!”

For Basil, first found trudging

along a tractor path in the 1970s

by Jane's late father Charlie Styles,

it is the latest in a series of

adventures.

About 20 years he was found wandering near the A12 by schoolchildren when Jane lived in Gorleston.

She added: “Back then I had my telephone number painted on his shell in nail varnish and they were able to

call me. This time he went out, I really think he was on the lookout for a female.”

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