Melissa Nugent ’25

Picture it: you’re on the way to your first-period science class when suddenly, you are face to face with a tortoise sitting peacefully in the middle of your path. This is not an uncommon occurrence for St. Andrew’s students, but who is this tortoise? What’s her story? 

Her name is Venus, and she is a 32-year-old red-footed tortoise. An incredibly friendly animal, Venus is known to “get fixated,” on students’ shoes or bags, especially if they are brightly colored, said Mr. James. Venus is often found poking her nose in backpacks and investigating shoelaces. 

Mr. James, upper school science teacher and Venus’ owner, has had her since she was a hatchling, but she has only been residing at St. Andrew’s for half of that time. “There was actually an exchange of tortoises,” said Mr. James, as Venus originally lived in his wife’s classroom but eventually grew too big for her tank. She was traded for Mr. James’ smaller tortoise and has lived in room 206 ever since. 

Her world is much broader than just room 206. One can often find her on a leisurely walk throughout the second floor, though she tends to avoid the history hallway. Mr. James believes Venus could be left-footed, meaning that she favors her left foot and thus tends to turn that way, though she might steer clear because of “her lack of interest in history.” 

While Venus is usually monitored on her adventures in and around the classroom, she is no stranger to escape. She escaped just recently. Peter Goldstein 24′ recounts the event, saying Venus “nudged the door open and slipped out” just two minutes before his Environmental Science class was dismissed. Goldstein reports that she was missing for around 40 minutes, but after “looking all over,” the class found her safely hiding out in a Biology class. 

Mr. James encourages meeting her and says she is a “curious little creature” who isn’t likely to shy away if one gets down on her level. If you have ever seen her and wanted to say hello, take this as a sign. She doesn’t bite!

Photo by Danny Lobsenz


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