Four-year-old Shelley the tortoise disappeared from Rossett House Nursery in Wexham, North Wales, one weekend in July after escaping from her outdoor pen.
Staff from the nursery, which is one of two settings in Wrexham owned by Active Childcare, searched the nursery’s large grounds and surrounding fields, but failed to find their pet tortoise, which they have looked after since she was a baby.
The nurseries have other pets including hamsters, fish and chickens, which they use to teach the children about the natural world. The pets are cared for by the children during the weekend, when they can take them home.
Peter Graham, owner of Active Childcare, said, ‘I was at the nursery the day that Shelley went missing. I looked over and she was there - 20 minutes later she had disappeared.
‘We were really worried about her as this was meant to be the first winter that she hibernated.
'We were also concerned as it was a very dry summer and thought she might not have enough liquid in her system to see her through the winter.’
The nursery informed their vet that Shelley had gone missing and the children assumed she had gone on 'holiday'.
Before Shelley returned home, they received a call from the vet who thought he had found her, however the tortoise he believed to be Shelley was 50 years older.
Mr Graham says that there was lots of jubilation among the staff and children when a lively and slightly bigger Shelley re-appeared in the nursery’s garden five months after she went missing.
The nursery suspects that Shelley was hiding in the garden shrubbery, and they were unable to find her because she is so well camouflaged.
Shelley will now hibernate next winter.