Meet the Sussex tortoise that has gone viral
- Credit: Fishers Farm Park
For most tortoises, slow is the smoothest way of living. Not for Sybil though – she likes living life in the fast lane. Specifically, that fast lane is a slide, which her enthusiasm for has won her over three million views on social media and counting.
The off-the-cuff footage of the plucky reptile shooting down the slide where she lives at Fishers Farm Park in Wisborough Green, was posted to the company's Facebook page, and has become a surprise internet sensation.
‘We can’t believe the reach on it – it’s gone all over the place, with loads of people commenting and wanting to come down and see her,’ says Tom Rollings, company director. ‘We’ve had farms ring us from across the country too telling us what a super video it is.’
While the farm - which has been in the same family for generations and today is run by Tom, his wife and Tom’s mum and dad - is already well-known in West Sussex and Surrey, the team were looking at ways to raise awareness in the wider region to help them bounce back from the pandemic.
‘We all work day in and day out, but during lockdown we were all working and feeding all the animals while not making any money at all, which was really difficult,' says Tom.
While there are lots of attractions to entice people back, it's Sybil who has emerged as the star of the show. As well as partaking in the fun facilities, she enjoys pottering about the outdoor area.
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‘In the summer she goes into the grass paddocks and lies down in the sunshine, before heading back into the paddocks at night as tortoises like the warmer weather,’ Tom says. ‘Most of the other animals go out at night though – people think they’re in the stables all day but we like to make sure they get time to run around as it’s healthy for them.’
Although the farm has been keeping tortoises for 20 years, it was only six years ago that Sybil came to the farm with her husband Eric. ‘They came to us from a family in Lockswood, and they reckoned they were about 12 when they arrived to us. That makes them 16 or 17 now, which is quite young as tortoises can live up to 100 years,’ Tom explains. ‘Sybil is quite tiny still so it’s good she has some time to grow.’
If you’re visiting Fishers Farm and want to see Sybil and Eric, bear in mind that tortoises aren’t the liveliest of creatures – except when Sybil is going down the slide, of course.
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‘The kids can get quite close to them, and when we introduce animal handling back in once things have settled down, they will be able to hold her too,’ Tom says. ‘We’ll also have animal theatre events – though I think for Sybil we might have to build her a little five-star stage and a red carpet.’
As well as having a range of animals you can observe, Fishers Farm Park also has lots of plans for the summer. ‘We’re currently working on a big treehouse which will be opening. We’ve also got a new stage, and we’re hoping to get some magic shows and dance performances too. Plus, we have a summer safari tractor ride that goes through the fields.’ Tom says. ‘We’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything will be safe and that we’ll be in for some good weather too so that everyone can have a wonderful time.’