CLOSE

The deadline draws near: Anyone looking to adopt a desert tortoise this year from the Arizona Game and Fish Department needs to get their application in soon before it is time for the reptiles to hibernate for the winter.

Tegan Wolf, the desert tortoise adoption program coordinator for the department, said over email that she thinks Oct. 19 will be the application deadline this year, but “you want to get your application in as soon as possible.”

Wolf said close to 800 tortoises have been adopted since the program formally began in 2016.

Fred and Debbie Santesteban live in Chandler and decided to adopt a desert tortoise from Arizona Game and Fish in 2001. Today, Gus still lives in his burrow in their backyard. 

After two decades Gus has figured out some tricks: “He’ll open the door and come in for the day,” Fred said, explaining that Gus can