REPORT FROM THE HOUSE MAJORITY – HONOLULU – The tortoise that was discovered by Jonathan Hanks on his driveway on New Year’s Day will be getting picked up by the State Department of Agriculture this afternoon. Rep. Mizuno’s office received several calls from people claiming to be the owner of the tortoise; we will be calling them back and referring them to the Department of Agriculture. Our primary concern is reuniting the tortoise with its proper owner and the Department of Agriculture has the expertise to determine that through photos and markings.
“Our office was inundated with well over 50 calls” stated Rep. Mizuno. “Some claimed to own the tortoise, others offered it a home, we even received calls from the mainland willing to have it shipped there. Our concern was that the proper protocol was followed and insure that the tortoise is returned to its proper owner. Hopefully in the future anyone who may find themselves in contact with an exotic animal turns it over to the Department of Agriculture to insure that the animal is not carrying any communicable disease or invasive species.”
Jonathan thought the tortoise might be a desert tortoise which is listed on the endangered species list; several of the callers to our office claim that the tortoise is an African sulcata tortoise which is not endangered and is available at local pet stores. Apparently they are expensive and reside in many island homes as pets. Given the volume of calls claiming the tortoise belonged to them – there were at least a dozen – the only course available was to turn it over to the Department of Agriculture, Plant Quarantine Branch and let them determine who the proper owner is.