A $5,000 reward is being offered for the safe return of a beloved tortoise that was nabbed from a Queens environmental center earlier this week, PETA announced Thursday.
The 90-pound African spurred tortoise named Millennium has been with the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston for about 10 to 12 years, according to an organization spokeswoman.
Police were called to the center on Northern Boulevard, near the Cross Island Parkway, on Monday around 4:15 p.m. after a staff member realized Millennium was no longer in his enclosure, an NYPD spokesman said Tuesday.
“Children in our neighborhood really enjoy him and we’d like him to be returned to us,” the environmental center spokeswoman said.
Investigators believe the tortoise was taken from his enclosure, which is attached to the outside of the main building, sometime shortly after the center closed around 4 p.m. on Sunday. The fence of the enclosure showed signs of forced entry, the NYPD spokesman said.
After several days without an arrest in the case, PETA announced it would offer $5,000 for information that leads to Millennium’s safe return as well as the arrest and conviction of the abductor(s).
“Millennium was the victim of a brazen kidnapping, and his fate now is unknown,” PETA vice president of communications Colleen O’Brien said in an email Thursday. “PETA is calling on anyone with information to come forward so that this tortoise can be safely returned and those responsible held accountable.”
Millennium is considered a rare, exotic species of tortoise, police said. The African spurred tortoise, according to the environmental center, is the third-largest tortoise in the world and the largest mainland tortoise.
Although many children believe Millennium to be over 100 years old, the center’s veterinarian said he is likely closer to 17, the spokeswoman said, adding that it’s hard to pin down his exact age because he arrived as a rescue after he had already grown to maturity.
There were no arrests in the case as of Thursday afternoon, police said.
The Alley Pond Environmental Center is a nonprofit organization that offers a variety of educational programs for New Yorkers of all ages. It is also dedicated to protecting Alley Pond Park and advocating for sustainable environmental policies.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included information from the NYPD that Millennium was over 100 years old; his correct age is closer to 17 years old, according to the center’s veterinarian.