In August 2010, on an internet turtle discussion board - TurtleForum.com - a friend at the Mid Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society (MATTS) in Maryland, posted about a tortoise who had been surrendered to them. This Redfoot Tortoise, Booboo, had been kept improperly for his 17 years of life. The original owners loved Booboo very much. They just didn't realize what they were doing wrong, and that his deformity was because of his diet and environment. When they did realize it, they surrendered him so that he could be helped.
From the first moment we saw him on the Turtle Forum site, we knew that he was meant to be ours. We immediately started making plans to get him to Mississippi. We knew he had use of his front legs, but limited use of the rear legs. We knew he had an offset jaw and had to be hand-fed. We knew he couldn't get in and out of a water pool by himself and would have to be hand-soaked. But we knew he was special, and deserved a second chance at life. We knew he was ours.
The Journey Home
Our plan to get Booboo to MS started with a trip for Luke to South Carolina. A friend was planning to travel from Maryland to Florida, so Luke drove all the way from MS to South Carolina to meet him along the east coast. He then turned around and came straight back. (22 hours in a truck, in August, with no AC, and with no sleep.) The photo above is from the night he finally arrived at our house.
His Life With Us
Booboo had many great adventures with us. He finally got to live outside (during the warmer months). We worked with his back legs, and even made a temporary wheel-cart for him to use (although short-lived because he kept getting stuck on things.) His legs gradually got stronger and he moved around fairly normally. He loved his people, he loved his food, and I think he genuinely loved his life here with us. He became a mascot of sorts, and even got a forum category named for him at TurtleForum.com.
The Rainbow Bridge
On December 27, 2012, we woke to find Booboo had passed away. It was a sudden and unbearable shock, and to this day I have trouble writing about it. We believe the stress on his organs from all those years of deformity finally took its toll. We had a family funeral and buried him next to our other beloved pets. He changed our lives, and solidified our desire to begin an organization dedicated to saving other turtles and tortoises in need, in his honor.
Booboo's Enduring Legacy
We learned so much from Booboo. What started as a desire to help this one deformed tortoise turned into a passion to help others like him that, through no fault of their own, had ended up with injuries, illnesses, or deformities. We realized that so many turtles suffer needlessly, and that most of their pain could be prevented through education or alleviated through acts of rescue and rehabilitation.
After doing some research, we discovered there was no turtle-specific rescue or rehabilitation facility in Central Mississippi (or actually anywhere in Mississippi, although we didn't know that at the time). When Booboo passed, it spurred our desire to fill this void so that we could help as many turtles and tortoises as possible. We'd learned along the way that Mississippi has a huge, diverse population of turtles and tortoises, and for the most part, they had no one to look out for them. In honor of Booboo's memory, we committed our lives to being their voice, to healing their injuries, and to educating others about how amazing and miraculous turtles and tortoises truly are.