‘He’s a wanderer’: Frankie, the 125-pound tortoise is missing in Madrid

New Mexico News

MADRID, N.M. (KRQE) – If you’re passing through Madrid, be on the lookout for a two-by-three foot, 125-pound tortoise named Frankie. His owners said he’s a gentle giant but he’s known for being an escape artist. His owners said if you spot him, just call the number on the shell.


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Twenty-six-year-old Frankie is an African Spurred Tortoise, one of the largest in the world. He’s native to the southern Sahara region of Africa but was adopted by the Tew family who lives in Madrid. “He’s about 125 pounds, he’s about three feet long and two feet wide and he’s very heavy,” said Archie Tew.

Another thing about Frankie is he’s a runner or at least a really fast walker. “He’s a wanderer, he’s on a walkabout that’s what Frankie is doing,” said Tew. “He’s on a walkabout and I need to find him.”

It’s not his first time breaking free from his home. “So one time he traveled up to I-25,” said Tew. “Somebody found him in a coyote hole, the other time we found him on the other side of Cerrillos. So God knows where he’s gonna turn up now. I have no idea.”

Frankie’s owners have tried everything to keep him home. “I want you to know, this wall that I built which covers this whole area that I made for him because he likes to travel, I have built it by bringing every single rock from around the land by hand and then he kept pushing it down because he’s like a linebacker,” said Tew. “And the bigger he grows the more forceful he becomes he’s like this most horrible child you’ve ever had in your life right? So then what I had to do was concrete the whole wall, which I did, and what does he do? He breaks through the gate at the end by lifting its hinges.”

They’ve even tried tracking devices. “And so what we’ve done is very high tech, we’ve written our phone number on his carapaces which is his shell in fingernail polish, so its a nice reddish-pink color,” said Tew.

Frankie has now been gone for four days. KRQE News 13 asked the Tews if they are concerned. “I always am,” said Tew. “I love Frankie.” Now they’re just waiting to get the call that someone has found him. The longest Frankie has been gone is two weeks. If you see him, call the Tew family at 505-473-1572.

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