PREVIOUS: Tortoise stolen from Dubuque museum still missing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

PREVIOUS: Tortoise stolen from Dubuque museum still missing

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The search continues for a stolen tortoise. Somebody has taken an African leopard tortoise from Dubuque's National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

The museum's popular new exhibit Turtles: Secrets of the Shell draws in hundreds of people every day. Sometime between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning, however, one tortoise went missing.

On Wednesday morning, Linda Hogan of Holy Cross and her grandsons enjoyed the museum's exhibit, which boasts dozens of turtles from all over the world.

"We came out to see the turtles, didn't we?" She asked the youngest grandson there, wrapped in her arms. "It's going to be fun."

Thanks to a thief, however, the tortoise exhibit they were viewing is minus one member.

"It's just really sad that people have to resort to that and take away the fun for everybody else," Hogan said.

Somebody bypassed a four-foot-high glass wall and took the display's female leopard tortoise, named Cashew, which belongs to the museum and is not on lease.

"This is a major loss to us," the museum's director of living collections Lee Jackson said, "because it is a living part of our collection, and each animal is unique and it can't be replaced, so I would just hope that whoever did this would kind of see the light and realize that this was not the proper thing to do and bring the animal back to us."

According to the museum, Cashew weighs some 18 pounds and is more than 18 inches long -- no easy animal to abduct.

"Could've been a backpack or a large shopping bag or wrapped it in a coat," museum president and CEO Jerry Enzler said. "It's really disturbing, too, because it's the loss of an educational resource."

The leopard tortoise has a specific diet and is an African species, so it requires warm temperatures.

"If those basic parameters aren't met, all sorts of other health issues will follow fairly quickly," Jackson said, "so that's another reason we'd like this animal returned to us as soon as possible."

"We want to make sure that it stays healthy," Enzler said. "so whoever has it, we hope that they would call the museum and return it, or, at a minimum, find out what's the best approach to keep the animal alive."

Enzler said this species is not particularly rare or highly valuable. The museum is reviewing its surveillance camera video and working with the police department to help bring Cashew back and find the person or people who took her.

Upon learning the tortoise was missing, Enzler said, museum staff members conducted a search of the building. Enzler said he believes somebody not directly affiliated with the museum took the animal.

Anybody with information can call the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium at (563) 557-9545 or (800) 226-3369.

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