This is always a sad time of year for me. It’s the time our Sulcata tortoise, Franklin, has to move to his winter home. Those of you that have had the privilege to interact with Franklin know exactly what I’m going through. He has a way of putting a smile of your face just by looking at him.
Sulcata tortoises cannot take the cold. In their native land of Africa, in the Sahara desert, tortoises burrow under the ground to escape the cold. He cannot do that here. Although Franklin has a wonderful home here on the Y.O. Ranch, his house is not heated. Just recently, we had a cold front come through out of the blue. My first concern was Franklin, so I gathered a bunch of hay and stuffed in into his house so that he could burrow under it. Once he did that, I covered him and the hay with a blanket. Now some people would think I’m going a little overboard, but Franklin deserves the best we can give him.
My next step was to call the Garza Family. They are the wonderful folks who take Franklin for the Winter months. I know Franklin likes to stay with them, not only for the warm sleeping quarters, but for the three girls waiting for him. This time, he has an additional roommate, Sadie. Sadie is the Garza family’s newest member. When Chris Garza came to pick Franklin up, he put Sadie in the pen. Immediately, Franklin made a B-line to Sadie and a new friendship was formed.
Debbie Hagebusch is Director of Tourism at Y.O. Ranch; she leads all the tour groups throughout the Ranch’s 40,000 acres, detailing the various wildlife that can be found here. With up to 55 species of exotic wildlife roaming the Ranch, including Giraffe, South American Rhea, African wildebeests and more, she knows them all, and can often be seen taking care of the giraffe. She’ll get you as close as the animals will allow, and help you take pictures. So contact her directly here, and schedule a visit to the Y.O. Ranch and take one of her daily tours.