Blake the tortoise, WWI survivor, seeks home
The search is on for a home for a tortoise rescued nearly a century ago by a British solider amid the bloody Battle of Gallipoli.
Blake the tortoise is approaching his 100th birthday. He was plucked from the Turkish sands during one of World War I’s costliest battles – nearly 500,000 casualties in all – and smuggled back to Great Britain in a backpack.
Blake outlived the soldier, now only remembered by the name Mr. Marris, by some three decades, and was eventually passed on to a Norfolk, England, tortoise breeder, Marion Skinner, in the 1980s, according to The Telegraph.
Blake is Skinner’s last tortoise, and she’s put him up for adoption because she has back problems and is struggling to care for him.
Blake, 67, said she would love to see Blake returned to Turkey and the beaches where he was scooped to safety amid a rain of artillery shells 98 years ago.
“If he could go back to Turkey I am sure he would love it. If there’s anybody in Gallipoli who could take him that would be perfect,” she told The Telegraph. “He always loved the sunshine and the warmth of the green house so I am certain he would enjoy being back in his natural environment. It would be an incredible ending to his incredible story.”
Blake has lived with Skinner and her now-retired commercial refrigeration engineer husband Barrie, 67, since they adopted him from a woman called Mrs. Marris in 1983.
Her back problems have gradually forced her to give up all of her tortoises over the past few years, and now Skinner just has to find one last home for spur-thighed tortoise Blake, according to The Telegraph.
Blake has been taken in at the nearby home by Dillon Prest, where the nonagenarian reptile joins more than three dozen other tortoises.
“Blake is really quite fit and raring to go, just mooching about my garden,” Prest said. “The only problem is that he has cataracts, which has proven difficult when he meets a female tortoise he quite likes.”
And it seems that although Blake is almost a century old, he still has the sparkle in his eye, according to the Norwich Evening News.
Blake was still producing offspring as recently as a year ago, Prest said.
“According to the tortoise experts, the ideal home for Blake would offer access to a secure sunny garden, with a healthy diet of weeds and wildflowers dusted with calcium,” the publication added. “And he would need a warm dry shelter during bad weather, such as a greenhouse or utility area with a UV heat lamp.”
Skinner, who has kept and bred more than 20 tortoises, still believes returning the Gallipoli veteran to his native beaches would be the best home.
“I really want Blake to find a special home because he’s so elderly and actually very geriatric, she said. “He needs a bit of tender loving care and a quiet life now.”
(Above: Blake the Tortoise at the home of Dillon Prest, who has taken in the reptile until a permanent home can be found. Photo credit: The Telegraph.)