-- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo appeals for return of tortoise, which requires special care --

March 28, 2011, Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is appealing to the public for the safe return of Butti, a 13-year-old Indian star tortoise, zoo officials believe was stolen Sunday, March 27. Staff last saw Butti in his exhibit in The Loft around 4:30 p.m. When Butti’s keeper went back to check on him at 4:45 p.m., he was missing. Staff frantically scoured The Loft and swept the zoo, but the search turned up nothing. Staff reported there were several guests in The Loft shortly before Butti disappeared.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is concerned for Butti’s welfare, as he has special care and dietary needs. If he isn’t kept at the proper temperature and doesn’t receive the right type of food, he could suffer from significant health problems.

“This type of tortoise is not uncommon in the pet trade. We think someone probably thought the tortoise looked interesting and is planning to keep him as a pet, but we’re worried Butti won’t receive proper care,” said Katie Borremans, Public Relations Manager.

Butti and his brother, Tutti, are guest favorites at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. They have been together their whole lives and are frequently seen following each other around their exhibit. The zoo did file a police report, but is most concerned about Butti’s return. Charges will not be filed if he is returned safely. Please call 719.633.9925 x140 with any information on this incident.

The Loft has seen more than one million visitors since it opened in 2008, and has never had an animal stolen. The Loft is a place where guests can interact and connect with animals in a more open environment. Guests are able to see animals like Butti up close and even touch them under staff supervision.

“Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s mission is to provide up close experiences and make animals accessible to the public. It’s a shame someone took advantage of that. We’ve never had something like this happen before, and we certainly don’t want to penalize guests who respect the boundaries because of one bad seed,” said Borremans.

Butti is around the size of a grapefruit. He’s about six inches long and weighs a little over a pound. He has a unique shell with a bumpy star pattern. Click here to see a picture of what Butti looks like.