During the renovation, their family pet, a red-footed tortoise named Manuela disappeared. After searching extensively for the pet, the family assumed she had crawled out the open front door and was gone.
Fast forward more than thirty years: while cleaning out a locked storeroom after the family patriarch’s death, Leandro, the soon, took a box of trash to the curb for trash pickup.
The neighbor noticed the tortoise with the box, and asked Leandro if he was throwing out the tortoise as well. The family was shocked that she had survived thirty years in a locked storage room.
Scientists surmise that Manuela survived her incarceration by eating termites. The red-footed species of tortoise is a survivor that can live without eating for two to three years in the wild. A vet from Rio de Janeiro explained “In the wild they eat fruit, leaves, dead animals, even feces.”