In 1965 a then 13-year-old Jeff Cokeley carved his initials into an eastern box turtle in his backyard and let the creature go. Forty seven years later, his now 85-year-old father, Holland Cokeley, has found the exact same turtle with his son's initials on it on the family's property in South Strabane, Pennsylvania.
I picked it up, and I thought 'Oh geez, this is Jeff's turtle!' said Cokeley to KDKA Pittsburgh. It's been here for 47 years, and it still has the same the same markings on it!
Cokeley said his son loved being outside when he was younger and that was an outdoorsman ever since he was 2-years-old.
It was on a camping trip that Jeff found the turtle. He carved 'JC 1956' on the turtle before letting it go on the family's 4.5-acre property. He said he found the creature a couple of times after that before he left the area for Rochester, N.Y. where he works as a technical engineer for Kodak, according to the Observer-Reporter.com.
When I called him and told him, he said, 'Wow, I thought that turtle would be dead long ago,' the elder Cokeley said to the Observer-Reporter.com.
Cokeley emailed pictures of the turtle to his son. It is now as large as a man's hand.
I pulled the pictures up on the computer. As soon as I saw it, I just started laughing, Jeff said. I just had to show my wife.
Cokeley said he only found the turtle because of his neighbor's dog Zach barked at it repeatedly. After taking some pictures of the creature and keeping it for a few days, Cokeley let the turtle go back on the property.
According to the Digital Journal, box turtles can live up to 100 years, though their average life expectancy is closer to 40 to 50 years.