Apparently This Matters: Pet tortoises

Pet tortoises are having a big week on the Web, from Brazil to the Super Bowl.

Story highlights

  • "Apparently This Matters" is CNN Tech's weekly look at offbeat topics trending online
  • This week, Jarrett looks at a couple of high-profile pet tortoises
  • One is a Brazilian pet who apparently reappeared after 30 years
  • The other will not -- we repeat, "not" -- be playing in the Super Bowl

I once had a pet iguana. His name was Kramer, and he was the biggest, meanest thing you've ever seen. Without question, he spawned from the land of darkness, soon deciding his evil role in life was to make every day miserable for the Bellinis.

And he accomplished this by whipping us mercilessly with his powerful tail.

"Good morning, Kramer."


"Screw you, lizard!"

Eventually, we tired of the physical and mental abuse and sold Kramer to man who might have been looking for an exotic pet, or, perhaps, an exotic pair of boots. Either way, this poor guy was getting an exotic tail straight to the neck. Buyer beware.


"Screw you, lizard!"

As Kramer's new owner drove away from our house, thus ended my childhood interest in any pet not covered in fur. For it's hard to be vicious when your primary objective in life is to sleep eighteen hours a day.

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

But, hey, plenty of other people still enjoy their weird, exotic pets, and this week I stumbled upon a fascinating, if not completely fabricated, story that was trending all over the Web. It was about a tortoise in Brazil who turned up alive and well after going missing from its family more than 30 years ago.

The story, as recounted by several news agencies and websites who seemed not to find anything particularly odd about the details of this miracle, goes like this:

In 1982, Manuela the tortoise vanished from her home in Rio. The Almeida family searched everywhere (well, almost), and finally settled on the perceived reality that, maybe, after workers left a door open, their beloved tortoise just up and decided to leave.

Mind you, very slowly.

Now, fast forward 30 years to earlier this month, when the father of the house sadly passed away. The family, despite their grief, eventually decided it was time to go through the old man's stuff, which was piled high in a second-floor bedroom that was always kept locked.

That's when the son, Leandro, discovered Manuela inside a box with a record player. Presumably listening to old Boz Scaggs 45s.

Tortoises. They're into that.

The family daughter, Lenita, was shocked more than anyone to be reunited with her childhood pet. "We're all thrilled to have Manuela back," she said. "But no one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there. It's just unbelievable."

Yes. It is.

However, a local vet theorized that the notoriously resilient red-footed tortoise, which could have survived long periods without food, possibly snacked on termites. Which explains why, after three decades locked in a room, the first thing she asked for was an In-N-Out burger.

"Get me a Double Double up in here. Animal style, yo!"

Of course, there's also the question of water. Specifically, "Where was it?"

Nothing I read adequately covered this rather important detail, and I didn't exactly raise the bar very high. I literally would've accepted "magic" as a suitable answer.

So, who knows?

But, anyway, that's the (possibly) amazing animal story trending out of Brazil. And the Web absolutely loves it. Though, remarkably, Manuela isn't the only pet tortoise who has recently found its way into the world's collective consciousness.

There's also Sammy -- the beloved 100-pound companion of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who will be playing in Super Bowl XLVII this weekend in New Orleans.

Kaepernick. Not Sammy. Though, the latter would be far more interesting. Especially when it starts eating the 30-yard-line.

"This tastes terrible."

"It's synthetic turf."

"Well, I'll be damned." Munch. Munch. "Say, aren't you Beyonce?"

Anyway, there's my feeble attempt to somehow relate all this to the Super Bowl.

Naturally, Sammy the tortoise won't be on Kaepernick's mind on Sunday when he takes on the Baltimore Ravens. But there's a pretty good chance you'll hear about the exotic pet in one of those over-produced, pregame mini-biopics. Perhaps even punctuated by the music of Boz Scaggs.

Tortoises. They're into that.

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