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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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