Arrow-right Camera


Tortoise races back to desert

Fri., Sept. 12, 2008, midnight

Sadie heads to California thanks to courier service

After getting stranded at a U.S. Highway 95 rest stop in Idaho this summer, Sadie the desert tortoise is finally getting back to a more familiar climate. She’ll get a celebrity’s welcome in Blythe, Calif., today, complete with a police escort and greetings from the chamber of commerce before going home with adoptive family Wayne and Lee Ann Cusick and their young tortoise, Speedy.

“Sadie’s our star,” Wayne Cusick said.

In July the abandoned 10-inch desert tortoise was taken in by Dotty Cooper at the Kiwani Wambli animal rehabilitation center in Cusick, Wash. The imminent winter meant the tortoise needed a ride south – and soon. After the tortoise’s plight made national news this week, Cooper received more than 500 offers of help, with calls coming from as far away as Paris.

Then Montana-based, family-operated Critelli Courier Service stepped up with the perfect offer: a direct ride, free and right away. The company made tortoise T-shirts and put a tortoise on its van for the trip south. Office manager Saree Cunningham, who was along to pick up Sadie from Cooper, said it’s been refreshing to see how many people wanted to help. Donations will help cover gas costs, and a stranger offered to pay for hotel rooms.

“It’s just incredible what this little turtle has done,” she said.

Cooper said it was sad to see Sadie go, but mostly she’s glad to see her animals move on to better lives.

“A lot of them are terribly cute like that,” she said, “and I have to let them go.”

Sadie’s set to make her grand arrival at 11 a.m., with predicted weather in Blythe about 100 degrees and sunny.


Click here to comment on this story »