Stolen turtle returned to zoo

Freedom New Mexico

A Hillcrest Park Zoo employee told police he wants to press charges against a man accused of stealing a turtle and trying to sell it on the Internet.

A Clovis Police Department report states Officer Cameron Reeves responded to a call made by zookeeper Cody Machen Tuesday.

According to Reeves’ report, Machen said a man came into the zoo Dec. 5 for community service and expressed interest in a dark brown alligator snapping turtle in one of the cages.

Machen said he left the subject inside the reptile area for 15 minutes to clean and do other work and the man left the zoo afterwards and did not return.

Machen said he noticed the turtle missing but thought the animal had escaped, though Machen was not able to find it.

Police said Machen began searching the Internet Tuesday for a replacement turtle. He discovered an alligator snapping turtle for sale on craigslist.com by a Clovis resident whose name matched the name of the subject signing in with the zoo on Dec. 5.

Officer Reeves located the man at work, read him his Miranda rights and advised him that he was being accused of taking the turtle, according to the report.

Reeves said the subject admitted to taking the turtle.

“(The subject) advised it was a stupid move on his part and that he shouldn’t have taken it,” according to the report.

Reeves said he advised the man to retrieve the turtle from a house in Portales where a friend was keeping it, and Reeves and the subject met at the zoo to return the unharmed animal.

The turtle is valued at $80.

Police said if charges are authorized, the man would likely face petty misdemeanor larceny with a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Zoo Director Herschel Arnold was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Machen could not be reached for comment.