(Via KVOA Tucson

A kind human was off-roading in the desert when he noticed something unusual down an old abandoned mine shaft, an endangered desert tortoise! The shaft was aprox. 20 ft deep and 30 ft wide with walls too steep for him to reach the tortoise safely, so he contacted the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) with GPS coordinates and directions to the mine.

Given how deep the mine was, the AZGFD’s wildlife management waited till morning and headed out to rescue the tortoise. Using an extension ladder, repelling ropes, and determination, they were able to reach this little guy and carry him out of the mine!

He was incredibly dehydrated and emaciated and unfortunately unfit to be released into the wild on the spot. His rescuers gave him a good soak and brought him back to be cared for through the winter months. Rumor has it he’s gaining weight like a champ, getting all the spoils he deserves after that scary trip down the mine.

(Via Arizona Game and Fish Department Facebook)  

The tortoise was extremely dehydrated and very emaciated, he had been in there for quite a while. We immediately soaked him in the field, but after looking at him closely, we found he was extremely light, had scarring on his legs, a swollen joint on his back leg, and had worn down his front toenails to nothing. We made the determination if we released him he probably would not make it through the winter. It was already late fall, he was in very poor shape, and he would never be able to gain sustenance so late in the fall. With his front toenails completely gone, he probably would not be able to even dig a burrow in time to get out of the winter weather season; so we are rehabilitating him through the winter. He is recuperating nicely, to date he has gained almost a pound in weight and is eating regularly.

Incredible work by this good samaritan and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Thanks to them we lost one less desert tortoise this past year.