HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The Houston Zoo is hoping you can help bring their turtle, Squishy, home.
It was stolen from the Natural Encounters exhibit on March 5th. Houston Police say the suspect left multiple investigative "breadcrumbs."
According to court documents, 21-year-old Jaden Andel posed for a souvenir photo taken by a zoo photographer before the suspect left with the turtle in a purse. Police also report Andel boasted about "liberating" the turtle the day it was stolen.
"Squishy is 16-years-old. We received him when he was a baby. Our keepers took care of him day to day. He receives medication. He’s one of our family," said Maria Gallegos, Security Director at Houston Zoo.
Gallegos adds Squishy is one of 5 snake-necked turtles at the exhibit.
Investigator Michael Ybanez with the Houston Police Department says an uber driver and the apartment managers where the suspect lived at the time say they saw the turtle and Andel told them it was stolen from Houston Zoo.
On a Facebook profile, Andel identifies as vegan activist. However, Ybanez says this isn’t activism, it's a crime.
"It’s a felony theft and there’s jail time associated with that -- a theft of anything whether it’s a turtle or any other object it doesn’t belong to you," Ybanez told FOX 26.
FOX 26 reached out to Andel. When asked about the surveillance images, Andel would not confirm or deny any involvement – only calling the investigation “a joke.”
Anyone with info on Andel's whereabout should contact Crime Stoppers of Houston.