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This photo shows the door to the new hospital at American Tortoise Rescue in Malibu. Submitted photo/Susan Cain Tellem
Submitted by the American Tortoise Rescue
6:12 am PDT August 12, 2020

Time flies when the world does a one-two punch. After losing the house and American Tortoise Rescue turtle hospital in the Woolsey Fire, we are dealing with a serious pandemic, COVID-19. This, of course, resulted in rebuilding delays that could not be avoided to protect the health and safety of workers.

Fortunately, our home and the hospital are being built in a factory off-site, and work was allowed to resume.

It's been almost 22 months since the fire, and we just got our final permits last week.

Yes, a one-two punch.

Now we have a contractor and will finalize bids this week for the foundation and garage. Then a crane will set the building units on the foundation like Legos.

We are excited about seeing the turtle hospital take shape. It is much larger than the previous one, and has a farmhouse sink, where our previous one had no plumbing. This will make life so much easier, especially with sick or tiny turtles.

All of this comes at great cost, of course. Nothing is easy or cheap. But we are blessed to have your help and support. The actual sanctuary itself has risen from the ashes and looks beautiful. The 100 or so turtle and tortoise residents are loving it. We have heat, but we have to drag in the hoses from the home site for daily water.

Plants have exploded back, and though we lost some fruit trees, others are rebounding, including two persimmons and a pomegranate tree.

I will provide more photos as we get closer to the end of this journey. I am truly hoping that we can be home by Christmas. In the meantime, we visit the sanctuary daily to feed and water. It's under lock and key, as well as security cameras and patrol, so everyone is safe.

— Susan Cain Tellem

 American Tortoise Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1990 to provide for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle. You can help the rebuild by donating to the #TurtleStrong Malibu Fire Relief GoFundMe campaign.