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Roaming tortoise back at SC home after climbing 3-foot wall

Fred the stray tortoise and owner Heather Galvin were reunited Thursday at the Charleston Animal Society.

He is known to be bullish about busting loose. It's why the Galvins got him at half-price from a Ladson man, who said Fred rammed through fences.

In this case, Fred is believed to have climbed over the thick walls of his 3-foot-tall enclosure on James Island. He made it three blocks into Folly Road, where he reportedly stopped traffic until animal control picked him up late Wednesday afternoon.

Galvin said she and her husband, Henry Galvin, will build a taller pen.

Fred is a 90-pound sulcata tortoise, and he's part of the Galvins' family. He responds to his name and follows his owners around in the backyard. He enjoys fruits and vegetables from a produce stand at Folly and Fort Johnson roads.

Fred got loose from his new home on Needlegrass Street in the Beachcomber development near Folly Beach, where the Galvins moved about six weeks ago.

At the animal society, there was some discussion about whether Fred was allowed in the Charleston city limits, but animal control determined he was OK at his new home, although his owners might need to acquire a permit.

"My husband loves turtles and frogs and that kind of thing," Heather Galvin said.

They also have 10 box turtles, a golden retriever, a greyhound and a cat.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Galvins noticed Fred was missing from his pen. The first lead they got was a neighbor's Facebook page photo of the tortoise crossing a driveway.

"When he's on a mission, he can move about a mile or two a day," Heather Galvin said.

Folly Beach Animal Control picked up Fred late Wednesday on Folly Road in front of the Piggly Wiggly.

"He couldn't fit into the cage. He had to go into the back of the truck," said Kay Hyman, spokeswoman for the animal society.

At 15 years old, Fred is a youngster. The tortoise, native to Africa, can live to be more than 100 years old and weigh up to 250 pounds.

The animal society has had four tortoises that Hyman remembers. Fred occupied a dog pen at the society, and the space was sorely needed because the shelter is bursting at the seams with animals, said board President Charles Karesh.