When Humpty, the tortoise, escaped from his owner’s home in San Diego, California, a dog chased him in the streets and fell onto his back from a 10-foot-high retaining wall, breaking parts of his shell as the result.
Luckily, the San Diego County Department of Animal Services responded right away and he was rushed to a reptile specialist, who began the long surgery to put the cracked shells back together.
“We’ve seen a lot of tortoises and turtles, but nothing to the size or severity of Humpty’s injuries,” Director Dan DeSousa,, told The Dodo. “We had to get his shell back together as soon as possible.”
“Many of the pieces were raised, so they needed to be aligned back together,” DeSousa added. “After that, they used screws and zip ties to hold everything in place for the healing process.”
The surgeons also filled the gaps between the broken pieces with a material similar to what dentures are made from, which further help his shell to heal properly. The total cost of the surgery reached up to $4,000.
According to The Dodo, Humpty is an African spurred tortoise a.k.a. sulcata tortoise, which is the third-largest species of tortoise in the world. An adult can weigh up to 200 pounds and live more than 70 years.
Sadly, they’re the common breed in the exotic pet industry that are often abandoned by the owners once they grow so large.
“Despite how slow they are, sulcata tortoises are very powerful animals,” DeSousa shared. “They can burrow out of a yard or even break boards off a fence if it’s not secure. He’s not out of the woods quite yet, but we expect him to make a full recovery.”