St. Louis County Woman Searching For Missing Tortoise

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WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-- Viola Haegele wants you to be on the lookout for Leo.

"He weighs approximately 125 pounds so he's not easy to pick up," says owner Viola Haegele. "He has a dark shell."

He disappeared one week ago on a visit to his vet's house near Rockwood Reservation in St. Louis County.

"Tortoise's tend to be territorial and we're hoping that although he hasn't been there a long time he'll kind of use his own tracks to track back," says veterinarian Dr. Douglas Pernikoff.

Tracking a tortoise is tough.

They like to lay low and this Cicada from the Southern edge of the Sahara doesn`t mind some Midwestern summer heat.

"We've been out in the woods against the tick season and it's horrible," says Pernikoff. "I think animals are doing a lot better than we are."

This isn't the first time Leo has been on the lam.

He's forced his way through this fence once before.

"By prying his way out of the gates," notes Haegele. "He is a big strong tortoise."

For a short time, Haegele tried to a low tech way of monitoring Leo.

"Then tie a helium balloon on him so I could walk him around in the back yard and see where he's at," says Haegele.

Haegele hopes that anyone who spots a slow moving tortoise in the Chesterfield Valley will call Clarkson Wilson Veterinary Clinic.

After all, this is a tortoise that's tugged at her heart for some time.

"When you get them this small you don't know what the sex is until they're like two years old," says Haegele.  "So I kind of went with a Leo knowing I can change it to a Leona. Kind of like to play it safe. But he turned out to be a male anyway."

A tortoise with a tendency to go exploring.