The great escape: Roaming turtle found at primary school

turtle in school

A lost turtle has been found at East Finchley's Martin Primary School - Credit: Tristan Green

A mischievous turtle found roaming around an East Finchley school and gatecrashing a PE lesson has been reunited with its owner.

Tristan Green, a teacher at Martin Primary School, was surprised to find the reptile wandering around the school field on Monday evening (September 6).

Tristan said that, because he works on the school's forest programme, which provides outdoor education for pupils, people often bring him lost and injured animals.

"Usually it's cats that are brought in, so this was very unusual," Tristan told the Ham&High.

"I didn't really know what to do with it. We assumed it was a terrapin that had escaped from someone's pond."


The confused reptile is said to be 'confident' and enjoys being around the school pupils - Credit: Tristan Green

The concerned teacher called animal rescue charities and posted pictures of the surprise visitor on Facebook, hoping to find its owner.

After a number of attempted escapes, Tristan decided to put the turtle into a plastic box in the school to keep it safe.

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"He seemed very stressed in there, so we ended up putting him in our school's pond, which is fenced off," he said.

The pond is part of Martin Primary School's Forest School programme, accessed by pupils in Year 1 and Year 4 as well as nursery and reception children.

The programme uses the woods and forests as a "means to build independence and self-esteem in children".

"The next day he seemed happy enough, and was sunbathing in the pond," Tristan added. He was eating every newt in sight."


The turtle was put in the school's pond - Credit: Tristan Green

Tristan later got called to the school's playing fields after the turtle gatecrashed a Year 6 PE lesson. The teacher said: "The 90 children were obviously very excited, and were screaming.

"Most had never seen a turtle before. It's very unusual to find a turtle in the middle of London. He's a confident little thing, and seemed to like the children."

The teacher said that his visitor escaped once again, and was rediscovered on East Finchley High Road by a concerned passer-by. 

The good Samaritan took it to a local vet to ensure the reptile was kept out of harm's way.

On Wednesday night (August 8), Tristan finally received a long-awaited message from the turtle's owner, who had been away on holiday and had no idea about the commotion his pet had caused.

Tristan plans to meet with the owner soon and understand the circumstances of the reptile's great escape.