A family in Okotoks is desperately searching for their beloved pet, a 50 pound tortoise that gave his sitter the slip over the May long weekend.

Khoopa, a 15-year-old African sulcata tortoise, was adopted by the Jordan family from a rescue society in Edmonton a year and a half ago.

“He was there and they needed somebody who could accommodate his size and space,” said Jody Jordan, Khoopa’s owner.

The Jordans built a heated enclosure for him to stay in and say that during the summertime, he likes to walk a path in the yard.

However, when the family went away on the weekend, the person they’d asked to watch over their animals lost sight of him when he was out and about.

“We were away for the weekend and we had somebody in looking after the pets and the house and he’s gotten out somewhere, somehow. He’s been gone for a couple of days now. We’re just on the search trying to find him.”

Jordan knows that it will be a difficult task, especially given how many rural properties there are in the area where she lives. She does have hope that someone will see him at some point and call the proper authorities.

“It’s such a rare animal that I think that someone would check where he’s supposed to belong. Right now, I think that’s all we can do, just to have the awareness that he’s out there. I think he’s going to be in somebody’s yard.”

During the night, tortoises like Khoopa end up burrowing under tall grass and remain out of sight until the temperatures go up again.

Jordan says that they’ve had offers from people to use a drone to help look for Khoopa, but she wants to make sure that her neighbours are okay with that too.

She adds that social media has been a powerful tool to help get the word out too.

“We weren’t even expecting to get the response that we did. We just had our vet make a post and it’s gone. People are concerned and that’s awesome.”

While a 50 pound tortoise may be slower than most animals, Jordan says Khoopa can cover a surprising distance in a day.

“He does move fairly fast. When you’re out here with him, within a five or 10 minute span, he can do his whole path of walking. He can probably do a couple kilometres in a day.”

With all the coulees, ditches, bushes and other terrain for him to hide in, the search for Khoopa could last a while longer.

Jordan just hopes that nothing happens to him while he is out on his adventure because he doesn’t have any access to water and there are curious predators around.

“He doesn’t need access to a ton of water. We just have a shallow tray in his pen. Still, in the heat and not having any access to it is concerning. Predators, they are a little bit of a concern,” she says. “If something gets him flipped over, he can’t flip himself back over so then he will die.”

If you happen to spot Khoopa, you can call the Southern Alberta Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Okotoks at 403-995-3270.

(With files from Shaun Frenette)