Brooklyn Boro

Here’s why turtles have huge traction in Bay Ridge

A male turtle named Doris is latest Bay Ridge legend

May 2, 2021 Jaime DeJesus, Brooklynreporter.com

A Bay Ridge woman is calling for residents to find her large pet tortoise that has gone missing and is offering a reward as well.

Laura Torres had her family’s pet named Doris in their backyard for 22 years. On Wednesday, April 21, the family’s African Leopard tortoise went missing.

Torres told the Brooklyn Reporter she got the 10-inch pet with her husband before they got married.

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“We, and a vet, mistakenly assumed Doris was a female tortoise but as time went by we realized it was a male, and the name stuck,” she said. “We have moved from states, taken airplanes, all along with Doris. Our two daughters have known her since they were born, as part of our family.”

Doris was last seen on 94th Street near Ridge Boulevard when he escaped the family’s backyard.

Bay Ridge may be ‘turtle central.’

A missing flyer for Doris, the African Leopard tortoise.

Doris aside, Bay Ridge is no stranger to turtles, which once were plentiful along the Brooklyn seashore but were pushed out by human expansion.

The Narrows Botanical Gardens says, on its website, that it is “home to a menagerie of animals, including East Coast native turtles, bees, chickens as well as many species of native birds.” In fact, on a recent post, the Gardens mentioned turtle food as part of its “wish list.”

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The Bay Ridge Pets website over the years has had many people who keep turtles as pets, including one who posted a photo of “Ten turtles altogether giving each other piggyback rides in my mom’s backyard.”

Going further back, the website The Hatching Cat tells the story of Floyd, one of three turtles who was brought in by a customer to a Bay Ridge bar known as The Toddy Inn in 1933. Floyd escaped, but for one or two weeks every May or June, he’d show up and stay there for a week or two, always in the same booth. In 1953, he showed up with another turtle, whom the regulars named Gertrude.

Brannan, Facebook page help out

Getting back to the present, Laura Torres recently stated how much the pet has meant to the family.

“We are beyond sad,” she said. “If someone is able to return Doris to us it would mean the world.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan shared the news on his Facebook page, which generated massive interest and help from locals.

“Doris the tortoise was last seen on 94th Street near Ridge Boulevard a few days ago. She’s been a part of her family for 22 years!! Her family is happy to offer a reward if you find her. So, as you walk around the neighborhood, keep an eye out near bushes, sunny grass patches, cozy hidden corners, and you may be surprised to find a tortoise!” wrote Brannan.

The family is also getting lots of support and help from the aforementioned Facebook group Bay Ridge Pets, which has offered updates each day.

Torres also created a Facebook page called “Tortoise Lost in Brooklyn” with the goal of bringing Doris home.

“As I walk around, I inevitably meet someone else that is also looking,” she said. “Thank you so much for not giving up.”

Several flyers have been put up around the neighborhood.

Anyone with information can email [email protected] or visit https://bit.ly/3xu6XhH.

—Additional material by Raanan Geberer


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