By Jon Bastian
Lorenzo the Llama seems a little put out at the moment. A group of visitors to the Dog Psychology Center, led by Cesar’s brother Erick, are standing around a low building located next to the llama’s paddock, paying no attention to the llama at all.
Lorenzo looks at them for a while, then turns his head and walks away, appearing quite miffed at the snub. But it’s hard to blame the humans. They’re all meeting the latest addition to Cesar’s DPCfor the first time.
His name is Jon, he’s 35 and single, tough on the outside but a softie on the inside and he’ll probably live to be over 150 years old.
Jon, or Jonny, is a sulcata tortoise, hence the name. In keeping with Cesar’s punning tradition in naming Lorenzo, the tortoise’s name is a play on Jon Secada — or Jon Sulcata. He came from Reptile Outpost, where he had lived for 11 years, but was getting too big for his enclosure there. Cesar just happened to inquire about adopting a tortoise at the right time, and so Jon came to the DPC.
Lorenzo and Cesar’s horse Conquistador are Jon’s nearest neighbors, and they’ve done great together, although the llama, horse, and dogs were a little confused by the tortoise at first. And, since Jon’s bedding is the same hay that the horse eats, the DPC crew had to quickly find a solution after Conquistador tried to eat the tortoise’s entire bed one day.
Trainer and Director of the DPC Jennifer Gray explained, “We found a way to put a small dog pen for an entrance that Jonny can get past but Conqui can’t…”
When he’s not relaxing in the house built for him by DPC staff Filiberto and Armando, which Jennifer describes as a Shangri-La, he’s out enjoying the horse and herding area.
“We’re amazed how he gets from one end of the arena in about a half hour,” Jennifer explained. “He’s pretty fast once he’s had his breakfast and is all warmed up in the sun. We’ve considered sticking a flag to him to know where he’s at since he blends in so well. But he’s a smart turtle and heads back to his house about an hour before sundown.”
With its often hot and arid climate, the hills north of Los Angeles are perfect for this desert tortoise (don’t call him a turtle!), and he will probably be there long after all of us are gone.
Not sure what the differences are between tortoises and turtles? Here’s a handy guide: Tortoise vs Turtle.