Iowa museum admits 'stolen' tortoise ... was not

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A 9-year-old tortoise believed to have been stolen from an Iowa museum actually was trapped behind a paneling in her enclosure -- and the discovery led to a bizarre series of events, The Associated Press reports.

According to Jerry Enzler, the president and CEO of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, an employee who found the 18-pound tortoise -- named Cashew -- lied to keep up the story about her theft.

Staff at the museum reported what was believed to be a theft on Tuesday, and surmised that the creature was taken between Sunday afternoon and Monday night, The AP says.

But after the tortoise was found behind the paneling in its enclosure, the employee hid Cashew in a building elevator to spare the museum any further embarrassment.

Cashew was found alone in a museum elevator on Thursday. The employee who found Cashew eventually came forward to tell the truth and say the tortoise was not stolen.

Enzler said the employee "was wrong and is not reflective of the integrity of the staff" and had not been released, but was reprimanded.

Cashew was one of six large tortoises on display in the museum's enclosure, which is separated from museum visitors by a 4-foot glass wall.

The creature will be back on display at the museum Saturday.

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