Jamie Barborak turns 10 on Saturday but got an early birthday surprise when Gus, the family’s pet tortoise of seven years, was returned home safely Monday. Gus, who went missing June 10, ended up in Warren, Ohio.

Gus is back.

After running away from home, the 65-pound tortoise was seen in a Farrell bar, held for ransom, apparently transported across state lines to Warren, Ohio, and then sold for a “couple hundred bucks.”

Police returned Gus to his Pine Hollow Boulevard home in Hermitage at about 10:45 p.m. Monday after retrieving him from the man in Warren who bought him, owner Jacque Barborak said.

Police took two trips to Warren before they were able to track Gus down. The Barboraks got a call Monday from the police asking them to identify distinguishing marks on the turtle.

Barborak got police involved after he received a call from a woman demanding $100 for the tortoise. He got the call after a story ran in the Herald Saturday about its disappearance.

He said he refused and she hung up on him, but not before saying he would not get the tortoise back.

So Barborak used caller ID and gave the information to Hermitage police. Hermitage and Sharon police tracked the number to a Ravine Place address in Sharon, where a man told them his brother had the turtle, and it might have been his brother’s girlfriend on the phone.

Barborak said he let his 9-year-old daughter Jamie stay up late when they got the call Gus was coming home, since his children are fond of the reptile. “She was really excited. They really like Gus.”

“The twins and the three-year-old, they’re real excited, they’ve been down with his pen, down there with him all day,” Barborak said.

Barborak got about 40 calls from people reporting Gus’s movements after the story on his disappearance ran.

A passing driver told Barborak he moved Gus off Pine Hollow Boulevard into the woods nearby. Another driver told him he saw that happen, and then moved Gus from the woods to Golden Run Wildlife Area at Shenango River Lake.

There, canoeists reported seeing Gus. A family from Clark told Barborak two fishermen picked the turtle up, and said they were taking him home as a pet.

Reports also came in that Gus was spotted Saturday at a bar in Farrell.

Gus is an African Sulcata tortoise, the largest of continental tortoises, and at about the size of a Thanksgiving turkey platter. At 7 years old, Barborak said he’s still a juvenile. His diet is mainly grass and Barborak said he’s been eating a lot since his return.

Gus faced several dangers being away from home. Since he’s a land tortoise, he can’t swim and some of those he ran across on his journey may have thought to put him in water.

Also, he does not do well in temperatures lower than about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and if he eats food with more than 7 percent protein, he could go into kidney failure, Barborak said.

But Gus appeared to be doing fine on Tuesday afternoon and Barborak said he doesn’t plan to press charges.

However, he did say it is illegal to move a Sulcata tortoise across state lines without the proper paperwork from the USDA because of a type of tick they can carry.

Hermitage police said Tuesday they do not plan to file charges.

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