A 44-year-old African spurred tortoise disappeared from a Lombard backyard Sunday and his owners worry someone took him.
It's not unusual for Lance, the 45-pound, 2-foot-long tortoise, to walk around his family's backyard and make close-by visits to neighbors' houses or the apartment dumpsters next door, said owner Andy Lechner.
"He's familiar with the area," Lechner said. "He always comes back or we go get him right away."
So when Lechner noticed Lance missing in action shortly after a backyard Father's Day dinner, they checked his usual haunts. He was nowhere to be found.
"Our main concern is that he was probably picked up by somebody," said Lechner, who posted flyers around town and alerted animal control and the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. A bigger concern is Lance was picked up and sold.
Lechner and his wife got Lance seven years ago when the tortoise was 37 years old. The animal's previous owner couldn't take care of him and dropped him off at a pet store where the couple's friend worked.
"Nobody knew what to do with him, because he was kind of bulky and cumbersome," Lechner said.
But the Lechners got to know him and fell in love. Lance became healthier, gained 20 pounds and when the couple moved to Lombard in 2008, he got his own pen and grazing patch in the backyard for summer months.
Lance made a habit of escaping his pen to explore, though, so the family kept a close watch over him and became familiar with where he likes to wander.
On Sunday evening, Lance was grazing in the yard under his favorite lilac bushes while Lechner's parents were over for dinner. At some point Lance disappeared.
The couple is offering a reward for the tortoise's safe return. Anyone who finds him can call Lombard Animal Control, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center or Lombard Police.