Tuttle the turtle has been around longer than most. But it’s likely that, in all the 70 or so years she’s spent on the planet, never before had she experienced such human cruelty — or human kindness.
The common snapping turtle was discovered last fall laboring along outside the Illinois home of Paul and Diane Tuttle, for whom she was named. It was immediately clear that she’d been the victim of a sickening attempt on her life; the would-be murder weapon — a screwdriver — was still protruding from her back. A closer look revealed that Tuttle had also been stabbed in the head.
Despite those gruesome injuries inflicted upon her by some heartless person, the tough old turtle still refused to give up. Amazingly, she even seemed to understand when the Tuttle family came to help.
“It never snapped at us,” Paul told the Journal Star last September. “It was calm.”
Tuttle the turtle was then taken to the All Pets Vet Clinic in Peoria for treatment. Blinded in one eye with a fractured skull, and injured internally from the screwdriver, her road to recovery would prove to be a long one. But it wasn’t one she’d have to face alone.
The clinic contacted Douglas Holmes, a herpetologist from the Peoria Zoo. He volunteered to take Tuttle into his home where he could keep an eye on her as she healed and keep her safe through the winter — a gesture of compassion for a creature who’d been through so much.
Nine months after being rescued, the day came for Tuttle to pick up where her long journey of life left off in the wild.
Last weekend, Holmes took the old turtle to a remote (and undisclosed) marshland and released her, telling the Journal Star that all the time and effort came as its own reward in that moment:
“Animals deserve that chance. It always feels good when you see an animal go free.”
Unfortunately, the person who had tried to kill Tuttle was never caught and may never be named. But at least we know the good folks who helped set things right.