ONLY ON 3: 'Turtleman' hopes to teach through interaction with gentle giants
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OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- There are a lot of things to see along roads in our area, but a herd of ancient animals is sure to grab anyone's attention.

Randy Gallagher is the "Turtleman." He travels the region showing off his prehistoric pets.

"I play with turtles all day long," Gallagher said. "I don't have any grandchildren, but I get to play with everybody else's grandchildren and have a blast all day. It's a good job."

OK, so they're not really turtles. The gentle giants are actually African land tortoises, and they are often sold as pets.

Gallagher takes his eight tortoises to grassy locations and lets people pet and play with them for free. He says for him it's not about the money. Instead he would rather spend time with his shelled sidekicks and educate some people in the process.

The rotund reptiles often draw a big crowd, sometimes attracting up to 2,000 people a day.

"We spotted them and thought, 'Let's stop,'" said Mindy Lane, who stopped to see Gallagher and his turtles today in Oak Island. "At first we just thought there was one, but there is seven or eight of them. They're huge!"

Gallagher says his mission is to show people something they may not see often and teach children a lesson of love.

"I would love to see kids with a little more patience and parents helping them along as far as how to handle things with a lesser stature than what they are," he said.

Gallagher says the lessons he hopes people learn from his Turtlewalk are important. He says he thinks if more children learned about empathy and understanding, situations like what happened in a colorado would not happen.

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Does anyone know how to reach the "Turtleman" because I misplaced his card. I talked to him about a birthday party in September, but do not know how to reach him now :(. Thanks!

If anyone has his contact info please forward to my email address: dowdy.solmar@gmail.com

Thank-You

I am all for Mr. Gallaher's rescue and public education efforts of his African land tortoises. The one thing I feel is questionable is letting children ride the turtles. I have seen him in several locations through out Brunswick County and have noticed he lets children ride on the top of the tortoises. I would question if nature made tortoises to support excess weight on their bodies and short stumpy legs.

I saw your newscast regarding these gentle giants. The newscaster said these guys can be 400 to 600 lbs. This is incorrect. The African spurred tortoise, otherwise known as the African sulcata tortoise is the third largest species of tortoise in the world after the Galapagos tortoise, and Aldabra Giant Tortoise; and the largest of the mainland tortoises. Adults are usually 24 to 36 inch long (60–90 cm) and can weigh 100-200 pounds (45 – 91 kg). Gallagher's tortoises look wonderful, and I love the way he shares them with people. I have found that people tend protect what they understand, and what better way than to let them meet one of these magnificent animals. I have a turtle and tortoise rescue and have 12 sulcatas and several other turtles, box turtles and water turtles. They come from people who buy them at pet stores and don't know how to take care of them. The "Turtle Man" is doing such a wonderful thing educating people on their care. Great story.