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'Big Mo' on the move

A 40-year-old tortoise that escaped from its Denton owners two weeks ago has a new house, thanks to two local artisans and Pilot Point’s favorite animal wrangler.

Elizabeth Jones and Chris Duncan of Lizzy Gator Custom Creations in Pilot Point built a saloon-style tortoise house for the animal free of charge. Scott Edwards, owner of Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch, asked the pair to help after discovering the need.

dwards contracts with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office to handle calls involving exotic or wild animals. He received a call about the tortoise two weeks ago.

“They called me and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a large tortoise on the road. What do you want me to do?’” Edwards said. “And so we sent someone immediately to pick it up.

“We transported it. We had no idea where it came from at that point; it was just a tortoise sitting in the road.”

The next day, Edwards received a call that someone was missing a tortoise, so he and his crew took the 200-pound animal back to a residence down the street from where it was found.

“When we arrived, the lady that had it had inherited the tortoise from her family and didn’t have proper housing for the tortoise,” Edwards said. “That’s when I contacted Chris and Elizabeth to help us build a habitat for the tortoise for the winter.”

The tortoise, named Big Mo, had been living in an igloo-style doghouse that it had outgrown. Big Mo is an African spurred tortoise, which can live up to 150 years or longer, and it’s still growing after nearly a half a century of life. As pets, they often outlive their owners.

“They go down from generation to generation,” owner Shaunna Serano said. “A lot of people don’t realize when they get them that small that they grow to be these bulldozers.”

Serano was happy to have the new habitat for the tortoise she and her family have raised from a hatchling.

“People think that they have no feelings, but they do,” she said.

Lizzy Gator specializes in using reclaimed materials to build art pieces, furniture and for home remodeling.

“It started with our landscaping. Our landscaping is eco-friendly. We don’t have to waste as much water. I think it’s really what we have to do to preserve our water and our future, so why stop there,” Jones said. “It developed into taking it into a deeper level and more meaningful — I mean, we as Americans waste so much.”

Duncan and Jones have used discarded lumber, old fence posts, driftwood, rebar, and corrugated metal for their designs and sculptures.

“It can become art; it can become treasures —something very unique — and you can’t get the same kind of character when you go buy something from the store brand new,” Jones said. “You can’t get that feel of that wood from the store. I can’t recreate what nature has done over time.”

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