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53-year-old tortoise needs new home after owner dies of COVID-19

Ms. Jennifer
Ms. Jennifer, a 53-year-old tortoise, needs a new home after her owner died due to complications caused by COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of MSPCA-Angell)

A 53-year-old tortoise named “Ms. Jennifer” needs a new home because her owner died due to complications caused by coronavirus, according to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell in Boston.

“At just four pounds and about the size of a large dinner plate -- tortoises grow very large in the wild but tend to stay small when raised in smaller homes -- Ms. Jennifer would make a wonderful addition to any turtle or reptile-loving home,” Rob Halpin, who is the director of communications for the MSPCA-Angell noted in an email to NBC 10 News.

“And even though she’s 53 -- and may be the oldest ever adoptable animal the MSPCA has ever cared for -- she’s only just reached middle age, as tortoises routinely live upwards of 100 years,” he added.

Ms. Jennifer arrived at the shelter on May 9 after her owner became sick was unable to care for her. The owner, said Halpin, a resident of Waltham, Massachusetts, later passed away.

“Ms. Jennifer is the tenth animal to be surrendered to the MSPCA because their owners either died of COVID-19 complications, fell too ill to care for them or were financially devastated by the ongoing pandemic,” Halpin said.

The tortoise, said Halpin, turned 53 on Wednesday, with MSPCA staffers hosting a birthday party for her adoption center in Jamaica Plain. She enjoyed some time outside, fruit salad, “a special dandelion cake,” plus lots of attention and affection.

Halpin noted that Ms. Jennifer is one of the latest animals to arrive at the MSPCA due to the pandemic.

In April, Chloe, a 5-year-old Chihuahua, arrived at the center from her former home in Brockton, with a metal plate attached to the bones of her right front leg.

She was able to stand and walk, but veterinarians were concerned about long-term damage potentially caused by the plate.

But they scheduled an x-ray, were able to remove the plate, and she was later adopted.

“We continue to see animals coming to us because their owners have either died, fallen too ill to care for them, or been so impacted economically that they could no longer care for the pets,” Victoria Odynsky, who is the manager of the MSPCA-Angell’s Boston adoption center, noted.

“Like we do for every animal in our charge, we’ll take the best possible care of Ms. Jennifer until we find her a suitable adoptive home,” Odynsky said. “We like to think she knows the attention is for her, and that she feels the love and support of all of us taking care of her.”

If you are interested in adopting Ms. Jennifer, email