A NINETY-YEAR-OLD tortoise which was won at Oxford’s St Giles Fair six decades ago has gone missing.

Mobo was already a mature tortoise when 11-year-old Paul Townsend picked him up as a prize at the September fair some time in the early 1950s.

For 60 years he has been part of the Townsend family, and has been looked after by Mr Townsend’s sister Elizabeth Drury at her home in Abingdon.

But now he has vanished without trace – with the family fearing he may have been picked up by a bird of prey and dropped elsewhere else in the town.

Mrs Drury, who was just four when her big brother won Mobo, said the pet had become a companion to three generations of the family.

She said: “We miss him terribly, especially when the sun is shining. We look out into the garden and expect to see him coming towards us.

“He has always been there, ever since I was young.

“Back then, people would come home from the fair with a tortoise, in the same way people used to win goldfish.

“My parents had him in St John’s Street, Oxford, and when they moved out in the 1970s, we took over his care.”

She added: “For three months of the year he is in hibernation and we do not see him. We look forward to March when he comes out.

“As soon as there is any warmth, he starts going round the garden. He sometimes comes in the house and decides he wants to sleep in the larder or the kitchen.

“If I am outside, he will walk over my feet. When our grandchildren come over they love to see him.”

Mobo, who was named after a 1950s toy, was last seen in the walled garden of Mrs Drury’s East St Helen’s Street home on April 26. She said he could not have got out of the garden, and fears he has been swooped on by a bird of prey.

She said: “I have seen a pigeon taken by a bird of prey here, and there were pigeons in the garden the day he was wandering around.

“I am just hoping somebody has found him. He has been a part of the family for a very long time.”

Bird of prey expert David Hughes of falconry business Halkwalk, from South Moreton, near Didcot, said he doubted Mrs Drury’s theory was possible.

He said: “Tortoises are so well armoured that a bird of prey would not have taken it.

“They will catch rabbits, but not something with a hard, smooth shell.”

Mobo is about seven inches long with a damaged under-shell as the result of an operation 10 years ago. At the time, the vet estimated him to be 80 years old.

Anyone with any information should call Mrs Drury on 01235 553636.