By Heather Janssen

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – An El Dorado County family is asking for the community’s help after days of hunting for an elusive escapee, their 100-pound tortoise. Days of searching on foot have them asking for help with search dogs or drones.

The Gaisor family’s affinity for their animals is part of what drew them to Placerville a few months ago. The quiet, peaceful pace is perfect for their slowest of pets, Celest.

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“He’s kind of a living dinosaur,” said Tim Gaisor. “It’s a very unique kind of pet.”

Unique, yet at times elusive. The food-motivated reptile, his owner Clara says, loves leaves and grass. He’s always up for an adventure, often trying to escape under fences, but is usually watched closely.

“He sees something else,” Clara said. “He’s off – he’ll get himself stuck.”

This past week, he broke out from his enclosure and was last seen at Serenity Drive home, near Holm Road.

“It’s like a needle in the haystack,” said Tim, describing the search. “All the shrubs doesn’t help.

Days of searching those shrubs have proved unsuccessful. On Friday, the only nearby animals were some geese. The family has now bumped up the hunt for their missing tortoise and asked the community for help. They’re hoping someone with a heat-detecting drone or search dog may be able to sniff him out.

“The dog could pinpoint the direction he went,” Clara said. “That would help us narrow it down.”

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The Gaisors fear the worst for their family pet, who is well-loved by their two children.

“To have one that’s so big and been in the family for so long,” Tim said. “It’s like losing a family member.”

A family member that is likely to live another century, if found. Tortoises like Celest have a life expectancy of nearly 120 years.

“Hoping to have him in the family until my kids have him,” Clara said. They hope the pet can be passed down for generations.

“He’s already in our son’s will,” Tim said.

Celest’s parents hope their reptile on the run finds his way home, safe and sound.

Clara says aside from his size, he has one distinctive feature – a little split in his nose. He responds often to his name, and loves carrots.

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The Gaisors gave their permission for their contact number to be shared, in case anyone may be able to help find their runaway reptile. They can be reached at 925-518-5102.

Heather Janssen