Wasabi, The Dress-Wearing Therapy Tortoise

(Photo: Therapy Pets Unlimited)

You've heard of therapy dogs and maybe the occasional therapy cat or rabbit. But how many of you have heard of a therapy tortoise? Wasabi, a 42-pound African spur tortoise is a certified therapy pet with Therapy Pets Unlimited. Her owner, Lia Chicarella, wraps Wasabi in dresses to cover up her diaper. This provokes delight and wonder when she visits nursing homes and schools as part of her work. The Huffington Post reports:

These days, Wasabi visits with folks in nursing homes and schools, and is a "regular" at the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. At all these places, Wasabi spreads comfort and delight, and provokes a lot of reactions like "OMG!! Look at the size of that TURTLE!! Why is it wearing a dress?" [...]

They're often thought of as moving rocks -- but in fact tortoises like Wasabi grow to be very large, live for decades and are very smart.

"She's not a goldfish in a shell. She is an intelligent animal. She can learn. She has and shows emotions," says Chicarella. "People underestimate the intelligence of tortoises. I am not saying she's going to be doing long division anytime soon but she knows her name and usually comes when she's called."

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