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Missing Duke City tortoise Diablo turns up

Diablo, who went missing from Manzano del Sol Village, was found and returned to his home on Friday. (Courtesy Manzano del Sol Village)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You can take roving reptile Diablo off the Duke City’s missing tortoises list.

On Friday, the 115-year-old desert tortoise who disappeared from Manzano del Sol Village was returned to his garden at the senior living community where he and his mate, 91-year-old Delilah, live. He was gone for exactly a week.

Word that the tortoise had gone missing rocked the tenants at the Manzano facility, and the story appeared on the front page of Thursday’s Journal.

“My knees went weak when I saw him,” Millie Tjeltweed, pictured holding a photo of Diablo the no-longer-missing tortoise, said about the reptile’s return. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

It turns out, Diablo had taken up residence in the backyard of a nearby home after a family bought the shell-wearing wanderer from some kids at a local park, said Millie Tjeltweed, who owns Diablo and Delilah.

The going rate for a desert tortoise? Apparently 50 cents a pound, or $5 for 10-pound Diablo.

Tjeltweed doesn’t know the circumstances of Diablo’s disappearance, but she said his homecoming drew quite a crowd to the garden.

“He was very happy to see Delilah,” she said.

Tjeltweed said the family that purchased Diablo called the senior living community after seeing a news report on the tortoise’s disappearance. Tjeltweed and some administrators from the facility near Lomas and San Mateo went over to the home, and Tjeltweed was able to verify that it was her pet of 35 years.

“We went over there and sure enough, there was Diablo,” Millie said. “My knees went weak when I saw him.”

She said she had been worried she wasn’t going to see him again.

“He’s been gone for a week and we were losing hope of getting him back,” she said.

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