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As she grew up, Nathalye De Almeida heard several stories from her mother about a her once beloved pet tortoise named Manuela. The story of her mother’s pet, which she had as a child in the early 1980s, always tinged with heartache. In 1982, when Almeida’s mom was just 8 years old, Manuela had gone missing.

Manuela’s family initially assumed that the tortoise found his way out and had wandered away from home. But little did they know they were far off. 30 years later, in 2013 Almeida’s grandfather passed away, leading to the family gathering at her mom’s childhood home to sort through his possessions.

One thing that Almeida’s grandfather left behind was a very cluttered attic with a few surprises. After the room was cleared and sorted, someone noticed something odd in the box of an old wooden speaker. Turns out, Manuela didn’t wander off too far.

"We were shocked! My mom arrived crying because she didn't believe it. They found Manuela!”

As luck would have it, the tortoise somehow managed to survive three decades trapped inside the storage space. Her family suspects that she has been staying alive and healthy by eating termite larvae in the overfilled room.

Manuela’s family was overjoyed. Nearly 10 years after being found, Manuela has never been better. However, one thing has changed. Manuela was identified as a boy tortoise, and now goes by Manuel.

“Manuel is doing great. He’s grown a lot. I brought him in to live with me because I have a lot of affection for him.”

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