Wadham’s tortoise was caught in a blaze on Monday after a lamp which was left on overnight to keep him warm started a fire in his enclosure.
The beloved tortoise, Archibald Manshella, who is still in his first year at Wadham, escaped unscathed after four fire engines were called out to attend the scene.
Wadham’s tortoise officer, Joseph Williamson, explained how the tortoise survived the blaze. He told Cherwell, “The UV heat lamp got too close to the wooden side of the tortoise’s enclosure and it caused a very small fire. The vivarium that the tortoise lives in is large in size and so he simply snuggled up on the other side, well away from the fire. The UV lamp caused an area of burning around 10cm in diameter.”
He noted that Archibald has recovered well from the incident. He said, “The tortoise is absolutely fine, if anything his encounter has made him more active and excitable than ever and he was promptly eating a nice bit of watercress minutes after he was taken out of the enclosure.”
He added, “No person or tortoise was hurt in this incident and the response of both the college members, staff and fire department was rapid and efficient. I would personally like to thank the Oxford Fire Department particularly for their help in the incident.”
Williamson also said, “There won’t be any formal sanctions for this incident, as far as I know, due to its accidental nature. I and the SU President, Anya Metzer, are now working with the college to make sure this doesn’t happen again and how to maximise the welfare of the tortoise in the future.”
SU president, Anya Metzer, assured that plans are being made to ensure Archibald’s future safety: “I have met with the Senior Tutor and the Tortoise Officer to discuss the incident and future course of action.
“The Tortoise Officer is looking into ordering a fire-proof vivarium but since hibernation time is nearing the tortoise will soon be moving into a fridge, which is where they are left to hibernate.”
She commented that Archibald is an important member of the JCR because, “in the event of a tied vote in the SU the tortoise gets the deciding vote. The tortoise always votes in favour of the motion due to its ‘radical desire for change’.
“Everyone is very thankful that the tortoise is OK as his welfare is paramount and he is much loved in the SU.”