THS: In 1982, the Almeida family who live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, couldn’t find their pet tortoise after construction workers had worked on the house and left the front door open for too long. They were devastated and searched for her for a long time.
Later on, they assumed the red-footed tortoise had crawled into a forest near their home and they would never see her again. 30 years later, in January 2013, their father, Lionel Almeida passed away. He kept a storage room second floor where he hoarded everything from old furniture to broken electronics and countless old records. The clutter was taking up useful space, and so his children decided it was time to let all the junk go. When Lionel’s son, Leandro took out a box containing an old record player to the dumpster, a neighbor jokingly asked if he meant to throw away the tortoise poking out of a hole in the box. His astonishment was palpable. It was Manuela! Manuela was reunited with her real owner, Lenita Almeida, Lionel’s daughter who had been given the tortoise when she was a child. She was thrilled to have her sweet pet back. She explained why the family had never bothered to check the storage room for Manuela.
“Everything my father thought he could fix, he picked up and brought home,” Lenita said. “If he found an old television he thought he might be able to use a part of it to fix another one in the future, so he just kept accumulating things. We never dared go inside that room. We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back. But no one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there, it’s just unbelievable.”