Tortoise Outgrows Green Chimneys “Shell”

October 7, 2022

The Sam and Myra Ross Farm & Wildlife Center may be home to over 300 animals, but the Green Chimneys community recently bid a fond farewell to one popular tortoise.

Maximus, a Sulcata Tortoise, originally came to Green Chimneys in 2016. He was 16 years old at the time and was given to us by a loving family in need of rehoming the tortoise before their big move. Maximus quickly caught the interest (and hearts) of many Green Chimneys School students. Inside the wildlife classroom, Maximus enjoyed his very own designated enclosure. In warm weather, students took turns helping Maximus into his wooden cart to transfer him to his own private pasture outdoors. Students loved watching him chomp on grass and his favorite, dandelion greens. Green Chimneys super fans will recognize Maximus from the Green Chimneys Animal Calendar, in which he was featured in 2017. And, of course, Maximus was not only the subject of many a wildlife lesson, he was a part of celebratory parades and special events, including graduations and moving-up ceremonies.

In truth, students and staff took such excellent care of Maximus, that he began showing signs of needing more. Maximus was growing too big for his enclosure, despite the customizations and extensions made over the years. And with colder weather coming, it wouldn’t be safe for Maximus to stretch his legs outdoors. In committing to the welfare of each animal, Green Chimneys dedicates time and critical analysis to what is fair and appropriate for each animal. Over the summer, staff recognized the hard truth: Maximus had outgrown Green Chimneys. As a result, they began researching prospective and skilled homes.

Fortunately, thanks to a tight network of contacts, a wonderful new home was not difficult to find. Since a tortoise can live 80-100 years and beyond, Maximus’ needs will continue to change throughout his lifetime. In the skilled hands of Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston, New York, not only will Maximus enjoy an expansive indoor home, he will also have the company of a fellow tortoise named Bo Bo.

Relating to Maximus

When families enroll a child at Green Chimneys, their discharge planning starts on day one of admission. In partnership with staff, families chart the goals and skills necessary for their child to return to their home school district. And when a student is ready, a discharge book is often created to help celebrate their growth.

It was with this in mind that Green Chimneys students were invited to sign Maximus’ own discharge book. Some wrote well wishes; others shared memories. And on a bright morning in late September, Maximus took one final ride in his custom cart. This time he was transferred to the back of a minivan, stuffed with treats and hay, and his discharge notebook. Staff delivered Maximus to his new home, sharing all of their care knowledge with the Forsyth folks, and helped introduce Maximus to Bo Bo.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow”

Shakespeare may have been on to something when he penned the famous line, “parting is such sweet sorrow.” Saying farewell is not always easy. This is why we are proud of our students who recognize that sometimes a goodbye is because of growth or a job well done. We’re grateful for the opportunities such as this to discuss the duality that can exist with one’s feelings: you can be both sad and happy at the same time. And we are appreciative of all the lessons that Maximus’ presence and discharge have provided us all.

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