09/18/2012 12:55 EDT | Updated 11/17/2012 05:12 EST

Missing Tortoise Reunited with Lake Cowichan, BC Family (PICTURES)


Mystery solved: a lost African spurred tortoise has found her British Columbian family.

Last week, the large tortoise was reported to be found walking along a remote Vancouver Island highway when it was spotted by a motorist. Concerned the tortoise might get hit by a vehicle, the driver brought the tortoise to the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring Island.

Wildlife officials were stunned to see the exotic specie dropped off.

"I've only seen local wild indigenous turtles and never seen a shell quite like this," Jackie Ballerone, Director of Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre told The Huffington Post B.C.

Wildlife experts estimated the 18-inch-long, 10-inch-tall female tortoise to be about 60 years old and human imprinted.

"She can't be released back to the wild, she's been human imprinted and wouldn't make it," Ballerone explained.

Ads were posted in local media about the tortoise, asking for its owner to come forward.

On Sunday evening, a week and a half after the tortoise first arrived at the centre, Cody Bell and Victor Gough were reunited with their lost pet whose name was revealed to be "Alf." They were surprised to learn that Alf was in fact a she.

Turns out, Alf has lived with the same family for 15 years on a farm near Lake Cowichan. An open gate was to blame for Alf's disappearance.

"During a family gathering, one of the visiting children left the gate to her enclosure unlocked and she headed out for an adventure," explained Ballerone.

Alf has now returned to her Lake Cowichan farm home.

Check out pictures of Alf reunited with her family

Photo gallery Alf The African Spurred Tortoise See Gallery

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