Nathalye De Almeida grew up hearing tales from her mother about Manuela, a cherished pet tortoise that she had owned as a young child in the early 1980s.
But the tales she was told were usually laces with a bit of sorrow and heartache.
You see, Manuela went missing in 1982 when Almeida’s mother was just eight years old.
Manuela’s family believed the tortoise had gotten lost and left the house at the time, never to be seen again, but they were completely mistaken.
Moving forward 30 years later, Almeida’s family met in her mother’s childhood house to look through her grandfather’s belongings after his recent passing.
As the attic that belonged to Almeida’s grandpa was being cleaned up and his things were being moved out for sorting, someone spotted something strange.
They saw that the turtle was hiding within the box of an old wooden speaker.
“We were shocked!” Almeida told The Dodo. “My mom arrived crying because she didn’t believe it. They found Manuela!”
Amazingly, the turtle had made it through three decades of being confined to the storage area. Her family thinks that she survived by consuming termite larvae in the packed room.
The family was overjoyed! Manuela was alive and well, and she still is!
Manuela has never been better, nearly ten years after being discovered and forty years after going lost. (However, he now goes by Manuel after being later recognized as a boy tortoise.)
Since then, Almeida has been taking care of him.
“Manuel is doing great. He’s grown a lot,” Almeida said. “I brought him in to live with me because I have a lot of affection for him.”
Almeida claims that after spending so long in the attic, Manuel is still the object of many questions, many of which are challenging to give an answer to, given his amazing capacity for survival.
But one thing is certain: he was never lost in Almeida’s mother’s heart.
“She visits him weekly, happy to see my daughter with him,” Almeida said. “She feeds him, pets him and kisses him. He’s part of our family. He is one of us.”