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53-year-old tortoise, Ms. Jennifer, finds new home after owner died of COVID-19

For decades, a tortoise named Ms. Jennifer happily lived with her owner, who would take her to the bank and other places around their town of Waltham, Massachusetts, showing her off to anyone interested.

But then Ms. Jennifer’s elderly owner had to be hospitalized after she contracted the coronavirus and could no longer care for the 53-year-old reptile.

Ms. Jennifer was suddenly without a home and her loving owner, but the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell in Boston took her in on May 9 and surrounded her with love until she and her owner could be reunited.

“We ensured that she had a lot of time outside with the sun on her back, grass under her feet and fresh dandelions to eat,” Rob Halpin, MSPCA-Angell spokesman, told CNN.

They even threw her a birthday party last Wednesday filled with more time in the sun and a cake made of her favorite foods: fruit and dandelions.

But in the same week, Ms. Jennifer’s owner passed away from Covid-19. As for Ms. Jennifer, she was thrust into the spotlight when news outlets and social media circulated her story.

In just a couple days, the MSPCA received over 3,000 calls and emails from people all over the country wanting to adopt her.

“It was more adoption inquiries than we’ve ever gotten before,” Halpin said. “We were bombarded with long, lengthy emails of people describing their veterinary experience or other animals they’ve had.”

After sorting through the thousands of applications, the organization was able to find the perfect owner.

“We found basically the best home we could find for Ms. Jennifer,” Halpin said. “(The owner) wants to remain anonymous, but she’s a scientist and a bona fide turtle expert.”

Ms. Jennifer went to her new home in Boston on Monday and Halpin said she appears to be thriving.

Despite being the oldest animal the MSPCA-Angell has sheltered, Ms. Jennifer is still in the prime of her life as she could live up to 50 more years.

“What we hope is that she’s showered by attention from her new owner so the next 50 years of her life look like the first 50 years,” Halpin said.

Author: Alicia Lee / CNN
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