A desert tortoise has become something of an honorary mascot for a Marana Unified School District elementary school.

Quail Run Elementary, 4600 W. Cortaro Farms Road, adopted 40-year-old Sargent Rex, a desert tortoise, via the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Tortoise Adoption Program.

Quail Run teachers Melissa Wilburn, Beth Kelley, Kari Sjursen and Michele Thelen initiated the process in October 2012 when they took part in a professional development program that led to the adoption.

The school has established a Tortoise Club that learns about the tortoise's habitat and nutrition needs. Students put together the preparations for Sargent Rex's living area and care schedule. The school's Parents, Teachers and Friends Organization and Sargent Controls & Aerospace volunteers donated the supplies for the habitat.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum inspected the tortoise's habitat and allowed the school to adopt him Oct. 25.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at pvillarreal@azstarnet.com or 573-4130.