COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – A rare tortoise has disappeared from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs and authorities think he may have been stolen.

Zookeepers say they last saw 13-year-old Butti on Monday afternoon in The Loft. That’s a hands-on educational exhibit where visitors can handle tortoises like Butti and his brother Tutti.

Officials say someone might have walked off with the Indian Star tortoise because he’s so small.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Tuesday that zookeepers are most concerned about Butti’s health because he requires a special diet of certain vegetables. He also has certain heat and ultraviolet radiation needs.

“It’s of course personally sad for me, having worked with these critters every day and interacting with, and taking care of,” zookeeper Ashley Young said. “The tortoise has visited schools and nursing homes, things like that. People love these guys; they’re very, very important. And for one person out of the millions we’ve seen in the last two years, to do something like this, has ruined it for everybody really.’
Indian Star tortoises typically have lifespans of 10 to 15 years. Without his caretakers he might develop gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis or experience kidney failure.

Butti is the size of a grapefruit and weighs about a pound. He has a history of upper respiratory infections.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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