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Tortoise Lost In Boulder County Star Of Kids’ Book

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(credit: childrensillustrationartist.com)

(credit: childrensillustrationartist.com)

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) — Move over, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” There’s a new tortoise who has been all about town and is now starring in her own children’s book.

Lucy the Tortoise — the reptile that was on the lam in Boulder County back in 2010, ending up at a feed store in Lafayette before reuniting with her owners — is the inspiration for a new children’s book titled “Lucy the Tortoise: My Big Adventure.”

On the cover, the word “turtle” is crossed out because Lucy is often mistaken for a turtle. Tortoises, unlike their reptilian cousins, the turtles, don’t fare in well in water — which spelled a bit of trouble for Lucy. After she went missing, she sniffed her way back to her Westminster home, where a mover found her before her owners did. He took her to Lafayette and dropped her off in a lake.

Lucy’s disappearance was covered by the Camera and The Denver Post. Eventually, a bus driver spotted her near the feed store and recognized her from the news coverage. She was ultimately reunited with her owners, Sheila and Robin Rockley, of Westminster.

“She was so happy to see us, she came running to us,” recalls Sheila Rockley.

(Well, running may be a bit of an exaggeration. But as far as tortoises are concerned, Lucy was moving at lightning speed).

Her owners were worried that anybody who found her might not know how to properly care for her. After all, she’s from the desert and requires a heat lamp.

And while she enjoys snacks like corn and apples, those are the equivalent of tortoise candy. She fares better on a diet that’s mostly hay and grass, mixed with “tortoise bites” that have vitamins and minerals in them, according to her owners.

Lucy, a Sulcata tortoise who responds to her name when she’s called, weighs roughly 30 pounds and will grow up to 100 pounds, said Robin Rockley. She’ll continue to grow and could live to be 120. Her owners got her from a rescue organization and estimate she’s about 10 years old.

“We’ll have to include her in our will,” Sheila Rockley quipped.

The tortoise’s brother, Rizzo, is a cat.

The last major writing assignment that Sheila Rockley took up was her dissertation on health care. So she got some editing help from a freelancer who writes for National Geographic to make the book kid-friendly.

The book is inspired by Lucy’s adventure, but some parts are fictional. Her tale helps impart lessons for children about nutrition and stranger danger. (Lucy isn’t allowed out in her backyard without supervision anymore).

In the book, Lucy has a chance encounter with a mischievous bunny that leads her on an escapade out of her backyard and into an unknown world where she loses her way, gets into some deep water, learns lessons and becomes a feature on the local news. She encounters a praying mantis and plays hide-and-seek with a prairie dog on her path back home.

On a recent afternoon, Lucy scooted around her owner’s Rockley Arts in Westminster, enjoying her time in the spotlight while wearing a glittery purple headband … er, shellband?

Lucy made a special guest appearance at Rockley Arts to pose for photos as Sheila Rockley signed copies of the book on her behalf, as the tortoise followed kids around the store, paying special attention to brightly colored shoes.

Sheila Rockley said she’s planning a second book about a fictional trip that Lucy and Rizzo the cat take to France, where there’s a large tortoise rescue organization.

Myah Wolfe and her sister are among Lucy’s fan club and were given copies of the tortoise’s book.

“It makes me want a tortoise,” said Myah, 6, an animal lover who has two dogs and two guppies at home.

- By BRITTANY ANAS, Daily Camera

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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