Keeping up with Koopa

Photo and Story By Jeremy Higginbotham

When downtown Conway’s Neighborhood Pet Shoppe found out Koopa, a 17-year old Sulcata tortoise needed a new home, they decided to make him part of the family!  Koopa is actually a “pre-teen” when you consider the average Sulcata lifespan of almost 80 years.  While lengthwise he may not get much bigger, he is still expected to put on double his current weight which is currently almost 100 pounds! 

Koopa interacts very well with the numerous people who stop by to see him and always enjoys being scratched gently on the neck, top of the head and on his shell.  Store manager Brice Ray says the team at the pet shop gets asked almost daily if Koopa is real. Koopa loves to sit still for long amounts of time and shocks customers when they realize he isn’t store décor.

When he does go on the move, Koopa is surprisingly fast! The store has found him to be an escape artist making his way into the parking lot and even once almost to the street.  “He sneaks behind the aisles and  opens the front door himself,” said Ray.   Koopa also seems to enjoy rearranging merchandise so he has to spend the night in his personal enclosure. 

Ray says meeting Koopa is a good lesson to customers to understand the commitment adding a pet to the family can be. While most pets may not be around for 8 decades, Ray wants potential pet owners to take the process just as seriously. 

Come visit Koopa at the store when temperatures reach below 60 degrees for more than a couple of days. When its warmer he goes to the farm with his buddy Bowser, another Sulcata tortoise, to enjoy the sunlight and get exercise.  But during this time of year you can often catch him in downtown Conway enjoying his daily salad of sweet potatoes, bell peppers, kale and maybe even some strawberries on top.