Giant tortoise detained by police following 'brief chase'

The escaped tortoise next to a police cruiser

Escaped 150-pound tortoise 'taken into custody' in California after going on the run

LAST UPDATED AT 10:00 ON Mon 4 Aug 2014

A giant tortoise was apprehended by police on Sunday after a concerned citizen reported him loose on the streets of Alhambra, Los Angeles.

"The tortoise did try to make a run for it; but, our officers are pretty fast," the Alhambra Police Department said in a statement on Facebook. They said that the use of cuffs "was not practical in this situation".

The animal "did not respond to 'Michelangelo', 'Leonardo', 'Raphael' or 'Donatello'", so officers initially thought it was a female. He was later identified as an 18-year old male called Clark.

Police officers took the tortoise to a local animal shelter where he was later collected by his owners.

Under US law, it is illegal to possess a giant tortoise without a permit, but officers said they would make an exception in this case and not remove the animal as they "enjoy keeping families together".

Clark was identified as a Sulcatta tortoise, native to the Sahara desert and thought to be the third largest in the world. They can live for up to 150 years and weigh up to 200 pounds. They are known for their burrowing abilities and workers at the animal shelter said Clark took the opportunity to escape after his owners left him home alone during the day.

It is unclear how long Clark had been on the run for , but tortoise expert Gary Wilfong told the Los Angeles Times that they can reach speeds of one mile an hour "if they really want to". · 

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