Woman and Tortoise Have an Incredible 56 Year Old Bond

There is nothing more amazing than a human animal bond. Studies show that people are genuinely happier and healthier in the presence of their pet pals. Scientifically-documented benefits of the human-animal bond include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and enhanced feelings of well-being. This bond not only provides people with a companions but also the animal with a loving home and environment. One of my favorite examples of pet friendships comes is a story about a woman and her 56 year old tortoise!

For her 10th birthday, in 1962, Jeanna Smith was surprised with a special surprise: a pet tortoise. They are still together 56 years later. Jeanna received a Gopher Tortoise and brilliantly named him George.

Smith tells Kare 11 News,

“George is probably my oldest friend. He would ride in my bike basket when I was a little girl.”

Today.com interviewed Smith and realized George the Tortoise was a gift from her father. Jeanna went on to say:

“Every summer I would find a painted turtle and keep them for the summer and then in the fall (when Smith returned to school) I would have to release them.”

Eventually, Smith’s father decided to finally surprise her with a pet tortoise. Thankfully, Jeanna’s father knew exactly where to look due to him being friends with the director of the Milwaukee County Zoo, who found the perfect gopher tortoise for Smith.

“It was a really, really wonderful gift for me. It, of course, meant a lot, and still does.”

George is now a well traveled tortoise who loves playing dress up during the changing seasons. He’s been a bumble bee and even took a crack at being a lady bug to match Jeanna’s Halloween costumes. George has also been able to experience adventures when her family would go to Lake Michigan for family vacations during the summer. He even went to college! Not really, but he spent many cozy nights with Smith in her dorm room at the University of Wisconsin in the 70’s.
George has also outlived five dogs and continues to thrive on his posh lifestyle like a champ.

Thankfully, Smith’s daughter will take George if he outlives her as she wrote this into her will. Seeing as how tortoises can live up to 100 years in captivity, please think hard before purchasing a tortoise as a pet if you do not have a backup plan for when you’re gone. Just like humans, animals feel loss and the worst loss is when an owner passes and they no longer have a loving home. As I would say with any animal, do your research and make sure you can provide them with everything they need.

Jeanna and Georges relationship is nothing but pure love between animal and human. Can you imagine receiving a pet at 10 and being able to have 56 glorious years (and counting) with them? Check out this video below to see Jeanna and George in action:

Please note, Tortoises are now currently on the endangered species list (which they weren’t in the 70’s when Smith received George). If you want to help a tortoise, they have many conservation efforts across the US so that future generations can experience just how amazing these fantastic aquatic creatures are!

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