A 100-pound tortoise had a six-person escort across First Avenue near Roger Road yesterday during rush hour before he was rescued and reunited with his family.
Jade the African Sulcata tortoise was attempting to cross the busy street around 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Motorists and employees from the shops along the road stopped traffic to help him cross.
Sarah Lawrence was on her motorcycle in the gridlock and wound her way to the front to see if she could help with what she thought was an accident.
"I look over and there's this ginormous turtle," Lawrence said. "I said, you have got to be kidding me."
As she rode up, the group of people and the tortoise had made it to the center lane. But Lawrence said, "they couldn't pick him up, he was so heavy. But suddenly he just started booking it across the road. It was a once in a lifetime type of thing."
Someone called Tucson Reptile Rescue at 844 S. Sixth Avenue and Charlotte Gillis dispatched a volunteer to pick him up.
"We probably get one call a week to pick up these tortoises," Gillis, the president and founder of Tucson Reptile Rescue said. "They are escape artists."
African Sulcatas are the third largest species of tortoise in the world. They can dig burrows over 15 feet and ram through fencing, Gillis said.
Tucson Reptile Rescue's volunteer drove around the neighborhood until he found the owners. They plan to pick up Jade after they fix the fencing that he damaged in the escape.