DOUGLASTON — A rare 100-pound tortoise that could be as much as a century old was stolen from an wildlife center on Northern Boulevard, police and staff said.
The tortoise, Millennium, was taken from his home at the Alley Pond Environmental Center at 228-06 Northern Blvd. sometime between Sunday and Monday afternoons, the NYPD said.
Officials at the center were appalled when they realized the African spurred tortoise, which is rare for the area, was missing on Monday.
"It was quite shocking and disappointing because Millennium is one of our big attractions here," said Venus Hall, an educator at the center, of the animal they rescued around 12 years ago.
"The kids like to see him because he's bigger than most of them. ... He's got a little fame around here."
Millennium could be anywhere between 17 and 100 years old based on its size, Hall added.
Employees noticed he was gone at around 4 p.m. Monday after a visitor asked to see the center's tortoises.
Although his friend Mini Me was still in the garden, Millennium couldn't be found hiding under a flower bed or burrowed in a hole.
They then noticed the back gate — which leads out to the woods and onto Northern Boulevard — had been tampered with, with dents in the garden showing the gate was moved.
Hall guessed this wasn't a solo job, given the tortoise's size, and she suspects he was hoisted over the fence.
"I would definitely think it would probably be more than one person to do that, they would have to have something to carry him," she said. "You can't walk down the street with a 100-pound tortoise."
Surveillance cameras from Alley Pond Environmental Center aren't focused on the back garden, but staff is hopeful police will be able to track down the tortoise.
"It never would have even occurred to me that someone would steal him," Hall said. "It could be anyone."