Carson City received a new mascot Thursday after Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the official adoption papers for a pet tortoise.
Appropriately named Carson, the 11-year-old desert tortoise was adopted by the Sandoval family to live on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion and was declared the new mascot for Carson City.
“We are very excited to have him here,” Sandoval said. “He will be a legacy here for future governors and their families... and we think we will be able to give him a good home.”
Carson came from Tortoise Group, an agency who finds captive desert tortoises new homes. Desert tortoises are threatened species, and once they become captive, they can no longer live in the wild and have to stay in captivity the rest of their lives, which is why the Tortoise Group works to find homes for all of these creatures. Sandoval said he read an article in the Nevada Appeal about the adoption agency and the need to adopt out the tortoises and thought it was the perfect idea.
“We are very glad you are taking him,” said Tortoise Group executive director Kobbe Shaw. “We wanted to put him in a good place.”
The Tortoise Group got Carson from a residence in Clark County, where the owners had bred too many tortoises for them to care for.
Sandoval and Carson hit it off immediately, with Carson allowing the governor to hold and pet him.
“I am the tortoise whisperer,” Sandoval laughed.
Carson has his own enclosure in the Governor’s Mansion backyard, complete with a playhouse cottage, a swimming patch and a tortoise “man cave.” He will be around for all to enjoy for many years — desert tortoises are expected to live up to 100 years.
“The desert tortoise is the only one on the Federal Endangered animal list that can be housed as pets,” said Shaw. “It is the Nevada state reptile, so this is a great opportunity to show the community about ecology and how we interact with it.”
Carson spent Thursday afternoon exploring his new home, sniffing the flowers, walking through his swimming pool and lying out in the dirt. Within the hour, Sandoval was making plans with his staff to place a bench in the enclosure so he can come out and read with his pet.
“Carson is something the children and people of Nevada can enjoy for generations,” Sandoval said. “We think we have provided him with a good home.”
The Tortoise Group still has nearly 200 tortoises to adopt, and anyone interested in adoption or more information should visit tortoisegroup.org.