Gopher Boy and Alyssa Reunite

In 2006 when Alyssa Vella and her grandmother were here from Florida visiting her aunt, Naturalist Cindy Andrews, she spent an entire day at Elachee. Alyssa met the resident Gopher Tortoise who is a main attraction and an ambassador for the Nature Center’s popular live animal exhibit. A decade later, Alyssa returned with her family and recreated a photo op with Gopher Boy! Alyssa reunites with Gopher Tortoise after 10 years.

Gopher Boy was a gift to Elachee from Oatland Island Wild Life Center shortly after his rescue and rehabilitation over 20 years ago. This poor creature was a consolation prize of some local competition. The person who ‘won’ him was horrified and promptly turned him over to Oatland. His shell was painted black and red. Adding insult to injury, there was a small trophy glued to it.

During Gopher Boy’s residency, Elachee has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors, many of whom are school-age children. He is a fabulous example of ‘show and tell,’ making an impression on many just like Alyssa. Native to the coastal plain, the Gopher Tortoise is the official reptile of Georgia, an animal of interest and a protected species. Also known as a lynch pin species, more than 300 other species depend upon the Gopher Tortoise for their survival.

If you’re looking for a unique birthday gift, consider Elachee's Adopt-an-Animal Program. For an annual adoption ‘donation fee,’ you help defray the costs for food, habitat supplies and veterinary care for an animal who calls Elachee home. Call 770-535-1976 or contact us.