A pair of 65-pound tortoises are missing from a popular South Miami Dade farm. The owner doesn’t think they ran off.
Philip Marraccini, the owner of Phil’s Berry Farm, is asking for the public’s help in finding Speedy and Dots. He said they were stolen Friday night from the Redland farm’s petting zoo.
“I know they didn’t run away, that’s for sure,” Marraccini said. “They were taken.”
Although the tortoises, both older than 25, were heavy, they’re pretty much still babies. Most tortoises can live to be more than 150 years old, according to National Geographic.
Phil’s Berry Farm, 13955 SW 248th St., is down the road from Knaus Berry Farm, South Florida’s go-to for cinnamon buns and famous for the two-hour-plus wait times.
“I opened up a much smaller and very similar operation, conducive for impatient people who don’t want to wait in line like me,” Marraccini said about his farm, which offers an alternative goodie: cinnamon monkey bread. “That’s why I have the turtles. We pretty much cater to families and kids, we give school tours and offer a free little petting zoo. They both are our biggest attractions.”
Speedy and Dots were just two of several animals that people could pet and feed at the farm. Marraccini also has some hens and two goats, one called Misty and one that is soon to be named in a name-the-goat contest.
“Wholesale, these turtles go for anywhere between $800 and $1,000,” he said. “But it’s not about the dollar value. Its about the violation of someone coming into my yard and taking two animals that are part of the family. It’s a great loss to the community.”
The owners took to social media and contacted Miami-Dade police in the hopes of locating the missing reptiles.
“We have cameras but they weren’t functioning at the time,” Marraccini said, noting that “there will be a reward for their safe return and for help in catching the thieves that stole them.”
A little over five years ago, Marraccini started the berry farm just after selling his long-time tropical fish farm business that had been founded by his father in the 1950s. The fish farm, which sits behind the petting zoo on 10 acres of land, still serves as a touring-ground for tourists and students.