(Credit: Wayne Viehweg)

Babe the tortoise (Credit: Silke Cook)

(CBS) — A family in Wildwood, Illinois, is trying to spread the word about their missing pet: an African spur thigh tortoise, which wandered off and then may have been picked up on the road in Lake County.

Babe is a spur thigh tortoise, which is the third largest species of tortoise in the world.

Babe’s owner Wayne Viehweg has had him since he was barely older than a hatchling.

“We’ve had him for 17 years, since he was the size of a silver dollar.”

Now Babe is 18 inches in diameter and weighs 45 pounds and he broke out of his outdoor habitat almost two weeks ago.

Viehweg put up fliers in the neighborhood. A few days later he got calls from people saying they’d seen two women stop their car at 120 and Mill Road.

“Approximately a quarter mile from my house. They saw him on the side of the road apparently and they stopped, put him in their car and left.”

Viehweg says his wife is heartbroken. “She has nursed him through colds and infections,” he says. “This is a beloved member of our family.”

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