A Denver man has offered a $700 reward for the return of Butti, a 13-year-old tortoise, stolen from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The Indian star tortoise was stolen on Sunday, March 27.
The zoo says the staff last saw Butti in his exhibit in The Loft around 4:30 p.m. When Butti’s keeper went back to check on him at 4:45 p.m., he was missing.
The donor of the reward, who wants to be anonymous, said he’s never visited Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but saw recent news coverage of Butti’s disappearance and wanted to help. He put up $500 himself, and got friends to donate the rest.
He cited his love of animals for why he took action. “I hope the reward will motivate the person who took Butti to come forward,” he said.
Zoo officials are appreciative. Katie Borremans, Public Relations Manager at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, said, "for someone to see the story and come forward with an offer like this is really touching.”
In detailing the circumstances of Butti's disappearance, the zoo tells 11 News that there were several guests in The Loft shortly before the tortoise disappeared.
Below is a news release the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo sent to KKTV 11 News.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is concerned for Butti’s welfare, as he has special care and dietary needs. If he isn’t kept at the proper temperature and doesn’t receive the right type of food, he could suffer from significant health problems.
“This type of tortoise is not uncommon in the pet trade. We think someone probably thought the tortoise looked interesting and is planning to keep him as a pet, but we’re worried Butti won’t receive proper care,” said Katie Borremans, Public Relations Manager.
Butti and his brother, Tutti, are guest favorites at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. They have been together their whole lives and are frequently seen following each other around their exhibit. The zoo did file a police report, but is most concerned about Butti’s return. Charges will not be filed if he is returned safely. Please call 719.633.9925 x140 with any information on this incident.
The Loft has seen more than one million visitors since it opened in 2008, and has never had an animal stolen. The Loft is a place where guests can interact and connect with animals in a more open environment. Guests are able to see animals like Butti up close and even touch them under staff supervision.
“Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s mission is to provide up close experiences and make animals accessible to the public. It’s a shame someone took advantage of that. We’ve never had something like this happen before, and we certainly don’t want to penalize guests who respect the boundaries because of one bad seed,” said Borremans.
Butti is around the size of a grapefruit. He’s about six inches long and weighs a little over a pound. He has a unique shell with a bumpy star pattern.