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Turbo on the move at Placerita

Local tortoises awake from months-long hibernation at Placerita Canyon Nature Center in Newhall

Posted: April 23, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Turbo, a 76-year-old desert tortoise, eats red-stemmed filaree at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center in Newhall on Friday. Turbo is currently on display at the local nature center with his 46-year-old friend Speedy.

If a groundhog wakes up after sleeping all winter and alerts the world to more winter when it sees its shadow, what does it mean when a tortoise sleeps all winter, opens its eyes and goes back to sleep?

If you answered that it means the turtle is dead, you would be wrong — or at least wrong when it comes to the two sleepy-headed tortoises at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

“Turbo and Speedy both woke up this past week,” Ranger Frank Hoffman said. “But then they went back to sleep, so we woke them up again.

“It was time,” he said.

Both male tortoises are now fully awake and eating — which is what they do.

They had been sleeping since October and, if they hadn’t been prodded by nature center staff, might still be sleeping.

Turbo is 76 years old — that’s in real years, not turtle years.

Speedy is 46.

“They were not grumpy when they woke up,” Hoffman said, “just a little sleepy.

“We don’t give them a lot of food right away,” he said. But they were offered plenty of water.

The tortoises are on display for the public.

The Nature Center, located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Placerita Canyon Park is open from sunrise to sunset.


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