A CASE of mistaken identity has forced a Doncaster woman on an unusual quest to find her missing tortoise.
Beloved family pet Nishka was left in the care of a team of reptile experts while her owner Christina Slemon, 56, went on holiday.
But when she returned to pick her up, a mix-up at the pet shop meant that another tortoise owner had already taken five-year-old Nishka home by mistake, leaving his own tortoise behind.
Unfortunately, the only details recorded about the other tortoise was the name ‘Jeff’’ and workers at Green Tree Reptiles in Hatfield are not sure if that is the name of the tortoise or tortoise owner.
Nursery nurse Christina, of St Mary’s Drive in Dunsville, said: “I can’t believe that my tortoise was handed to the wrong people.
“I am hoping that someone will realise that they have picked up the wrong one and return Nishka to me. I have done everything I can possibly think of to try and reach the other owners.”
Christina believes that the mystery tortoise owner, who picked up what he thought was his own pet from the Tudworth Road shop on October 12, had just been away to Egypt for two weeks and drives a silver 4x4.
She is urging anyone who might know who the mystery man is to get in touch.
Mum-of-two Christina added: “Nishka is much smaller and also has a speck of paint on her shell.”
Nishka, a hermans breed tortoise, was bought from Green Reptiles about four years ago.
“I am really attached to her. I’ve even been finding it really hard to concentrate and am finding sleeping difficult. Anyone who cares about animals will know exactly how I feel.
“I used to take her away on holiday with us and sneak her into hotels in my make-up bag.
“I really miss her and I’m so used to getting up and cutting her a bit of banana.
“I’ve used Green Tree Reptiles before and their care is great. I would use them again once I find Nishka. They have now improved the way they take records and I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
Christina, who looks after Nishka along with husband Keith, 67, used to have a tortoise when she was a young girl
“They’re not easy pets to keep and they do need a heat lamp to help control their temperature. But it’s so worthwhile. I love tortoises and when I was out in Australia, I even spent some time with a giant Galapagos tortoise.
“I’m trying to stay positive and am really hoping for Nishka’s safe return.”
Andy Jones, owner of Green Tree Reptiles, said: “It was a mistake. Someone released the wrong tortoise.
“It hasn’t happened before and the guy who dealt with it wasn’t one of our experienced shop workers. We have apologised to Christina and hope we can sort this out as soon as possible.”
Anyone with any information which might help Christina be reunited with Nishka should get in touch on 01302 881962.