Home Celebrity Meet a beloved neighborhood celebrity: a huge tortoise named Tyrion | Nation

Meet a beloved neighborhood celebrity: a huge tortoise named Tyrion | Nation

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Pedestrians on 63rd Street in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City pass many attractions, from cozy cafes to boutique gift shops. But a must-see along this busy road is a large pet tortoise named Tyrion, who calls a spacious fenced yard at Oak Street and 63rd Street home.

“He’s famous in the neighborhood,” said tortoise owner Bill Karaheka. “It seems like I always meet a new stranger. They just come and ask a bunch of questions about him.”

Kalahurkas adopted Tyrion from the reptile show as a baby when his shell was no bigger than a softball. Photos of the baby show him lounging in a small Tupperware container, and his owner’s hands look huge by comparison. Now, the turtle weighs about 70 pounds and has a nearly 2-foot-long shell that turns heads in passing cars, delighting visitors of all ages.

Game of Thrones and Dandelion

The most common questions Kalahurka gets from passersby are the turtle’s age, favorite treats and how old he might be. He told The Star that while Tyrion is now seven years old, his veterinarian estimates he could live to be 120 years old.

Kalahurka wonders if the turtle’s somewhat dated “Game of Thrones” name in 2022 will spark curiosity decades from now.

“It has to do with when he was born,” he said of the name. “If in 75 years someone asks where the name came from, you [could say] Long ago, it was the most popular TV show in a short period of time. “

Tyrion is an African spur tortoise, a large species named for the rough spikes on its forearm. Although he mostly eats grass, Tyrion’s favorite snacks include cucumbers, chamois, strawberries, and lettuce. He favors romaine lettuce, but eschews spinach and kale flavors. But his most prized treat was the dandelion flower.

“Their favorite food is dandelions, more than any other food,” Karaheka said. “If you give them a bunch of dandelions, they’ll stop everything. They’ll just do it.” Neighbors are welcome to stop by the yard during peak dandelion season and toss some freshly picked flowers into Tyrion’s fence, he added. inside.

Not too hot for Tyrion

While Tyrion is loved by the community year-round, he doesn’t always show up in Kalahurkas’ front yard. During the winter months, his owners moved him to the basement enclosure, where he could keep warm during the low-energy season.

“In winter, if I go out, people ask me when the turtles will come back,” Karaheka said. “So there’s definitely some familiarity. There’s definitely a tortoise off-season.”

A popular Reddit post in 2019 showed the turtle back outdoors after a winter break, along with a large sign that read: “Happy Spring to you Tyrion, the brookside turtle!” Although the sign hasn’t been displayed in recent years, But neighbors see the return of the iconic reptile as a harbinger of warmer seasons.

While low temperatures below 55°F disagree with him, Tyrion’s species were built to cope with the high temperatures of sub-Saharan Africa. During the hottest months of summer, he often relaxes in one of his two log cabins or cools off with a dip in the fenced wading pool. His owner also adds water-rich foods like cucumbers and melons to his diet to prevent dehydration.

Wait – there are two turtles?

While Tyrion enjoys his status as a little local celebrity, he’s not the only shelled reptile in Karahukas. Another African whip turtle named Tywin lives in a large enclosure in the home’s backyard.

Tywin is an older, less active turtle, estimated to be in his 20s. Kalahurkas adopted him in 2019 from an acquaintance who was moving and couldn’t take him with him. Tywin likes to hang out in his big cave and eat fresh produce.

Kalahurka plans to expand Tywin’s enclosure so he can roam the front yard too — but the two turtles don’t get along well enough to share a space.

“It’s very common for male tortoises to not get along,” he said. “I haven’t actually put them together in a couple of years…they just bump heads. They’ll try to hit each other a little bit. [And] There are two pointed heads under the neck, [they’ll] Try to lock them together. “

He added that the controversial relationship between the turtles mimicked their namesake characters on Game of Thrones.

Do turtles outlive their families?

Both Tyrion and Tywin could live another hundred years. Given their very long lifespan, many turtles end up in their owners’ wills to ensure they will be passed on to loving homes. Kalahurka hasn’t thought that far.

“Everyone is commenting on putting the turtle in the will,” he said with a laugh. “I have the same answer: I don’t know, maybe I should think about it.”

While he has no immediate plans to adopt another turtle, Kalahurka isn’t giving up on the option.

“If I could make sure all my turtles were getting along, I would make a giant enclosure and let them all hang out,” he said.

Until then, visitors can continue to stop by the family corner in Brookside and admire Tyrion from their white picket fence.

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