The 11-year-old, 85 pound African tortoise named Spike is not an urban legend and despite what on lookers may think he's real.
The pals walk at least 10 blocks twice a week, but that takes a while, especially at crosswalks.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – If
you've driven in downtown Louisville lately and found yourself doing a double
take after seeing a man walk a giant turtle you're not hallucinating! The
turtle and his handler are the real deal and becoming quite a local attraction.
Wayside Christian Mission's print shop
guru, William Duncan, said his work takes patience, a trait that also comes in
handy during his second job – walking a giant turtle.
The 11-year-old, 85 pound African tortoise
named Spike is not an urban legend and despite what on lookers may think he's
"Some people think he's remote control
and some people think he's a dog until they get up close to him," Duncan
For the past six years Spike
has lived with Duncan on the third floor at Wayside. He knows the residents,
how to use the elevator and how to get around.
"One day he actually came out of the building by
himself ," Duncan said.
Spike became the Wayside's mascot and
Duncan's pet after Wayside COO's Nina and Tim Moseley realized their son's
turtle was getting too big for his aquarium.
As Spike grew so did curiosity about
him around Wayside and in public.
"It's very good for spike to be at the
mission cause folks are interested in him. It kinda breaks the ice," said Tina
As soon as Spike hits the city
sidewalks, questions begin.
"Some want to buy him and say how much
would you take for him and I say ‘he's not for sale,'" said Duncan.
So, what does a priceless turtle eat?
Judging by his walk around the block he'll eat anything green.
Folks on the street want to pet him, rub
his spikes and feel his shell.
Duncan said, "Everybody likes Spike
and Spike likes everybody and if somebody is afraid of him they usually get
over it pretty quick."
The pals walk at least 10 blocks twice
a week, but that takes a while, especially at crosswalks.
"We've walked at least four or five
hours a night two times a week for the last five years," Duncan said of their
A big advantage of having a giant
turtle? Spike gains weight and Duncan takes it off. "I don't have any time to
sit and watch TV and eat junk food so that helps," he said.
More important than weight is that
Spike has become a real friend to Duncan and others over the years.
Duncan, who is a recovering alcoholic
said Spike is like a therapy turtle, and said taking care of him helps him take
better care of himself, "It gives me hope that somehow or another I can work my
Spike could live to be about 80 years
old and could end up weighing 200 pounds. If he does Williams said he is going
to have to find another person to help him walk Spike, but chances are he won't
have a shortage of volunteers!
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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