Talking to media the family said they lost Manuela in 1982 when builders were working on the house. “They left the front door open and we assumed she had crawled away. After a lengthy search we given up hopes and considered her as lost forever,” the family said.
House owner Leonel Almieda died earlier this month. After his death his son Leandro and daughter Lenita began clearing out a second-floor room he had filled with broken electrical items and always kept locked.
Lenita, who had been given the tortoise as a childhood pet, said: “Everything my father thought he could fix, he picked up and brought home. We never dared go inside that room.”
The family was excited at their reunion and said Manuela’s survival was unbelievable.