In 1962, Jeanna Smith’s father gave her a baby gopher tortoise for her birthday. 57 years and 5 dogs later, the two are still best friends.
Since the day she received him, Jeanna formed an inseparable bond with George. He would always be by her side. As a girl, she’d often keep the pet in a basket while taking her bike for a ride, or accompany Jeanna and her family on their summer vacations.
As Jeanna grew, the bond only grew stronger, and she brought him along to college. Despite the fact that her dorm rules didn’t allow any pets, that didn’t stop Jeanna from keeping George in her room.
While at college, Jeanna met her future husband, Kirby Smith. Soon after they began dating, Jeanna introduced him to George. Kirby was surprised to learn about the tortoise, but he and the tortoise quickly bonded.
As time went on Jeanna and Kirby married and had kids. Their kids all bonded with George just like she had. The family also has had a few dogs over the years, and they’ve all learned to get along with George as well.
Jeanna Smith is now in her mid-sixties and George has been her closest friend for over 50 years.
Gopher tortoise’s lifespan is usually from 40 to 60 years and that’s only in the wild. In captivity, this animal could survive for over 100 years. That’s why it’s very likely that George might outlive Jeanna and she’s aware of it. She intends to pass him over to her daughter’s family.
“When I go, then George will go and live with them. It’s in the will.”
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