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Where Is Ethel? Instagram Star Tortoise Goes Missing From Fairfield Home

FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — The search is on for a missing tortoise that escaped from her Fairfield home.

Ethel is no ordinary tortoise. She's an Instagram star with thousands of followers who are rooting for her to be returned safely to her owners.

"She really was a spot of sunshine in our life, part of our routine, part of everything we did, so losing that feels very much like losing a loved one," said Kacey Kuchinski, her owner.

It's been an emotional and frantic two weeks searching for Ethel who is a 2-year-old Sulcata tortoise, a native to the African savanna.

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During the day, her owners typically allow Ethel to roam outside to get sun and exercise. They put little fences and plant pots to keep her from escaping, but that day, her owners left the house briefly and it appears Ethel found an opening when the repairmen working on the house may have left the gate open.

"People keep telling me. 'Oh she's a tortoise how far can she go?' They're built to walk miles in a day. They can walk really far looking for food," said Kruchinski.

Since the escape, Kuchinski and her husband have searched everywhere: under bushes, in corners, in neighbors homes, they even put up hundreds of flyers.

But Ethel's stardom is keeping the hope alive. She's stealing hearts online with more than 6,500 followers on Instagram. Her photos on her social media page show her in costumes, on hikes, eating pumpkins. She's a very curious tortoise.

"All of a sudden she started getting more and more followers,  people were sharing her, she was even featured on buzz feed," said Kuchinski.

One of those fans is another tortoise owner in Los Angeles.

"I follow Ethel on Instagram and when I saw she was missing, I was heartbroken for her family," said Jadee Rhodes.

Rhodes is rooting for Ethel to come home.

"They like to slide, they like to climb, my hope is that she found a nice cozy spot where she's snoozing having sweet dreams. I'm offering a $500 reward for anyone that finds her and returns her safely," said Rhodes.

"We're really touched, we can't believe it, but thank you so much, it's beyond generous," said Kuchinski meeting Rhodes through Facetime for the first time.

Kuchinski says she's not giving up. "We're trying to hold on to that thread of hope that she's out there, and someone will find her and she'll come back to us."

She says if you find her, please take her in, she's friendly and safe.

Here's Ethel's Instagram page: ethelTheGlamourTort

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